(Bloomberg) -- London led a record increase in the number of first-time home buyers in the U.K. last year, as a flurry of market activity caused by the stamp duty cut freed up space at the bottom of the property ladder.

The number of people buying their first home increased to 409,370 last year, the mortgage lender Halifax said in a report Saturday. That’s up 35% from the level of 2020 when lockdowns choked back activity. The capital alone saw a jump of almost 50%.

The increase came despite a continued surge in house prices last year that stretched affordability. Changing work patterns and the tax cut helped push up values and prompted more people to buy. First-timers were buyers responsible for around half of all home purchase loans.

“While working from home and the ‘race for space’ was key for many, particularly movers, it’s clear that the Stamp Duty holiday increased the availability of first-rung homes as others moved up the ladder,” said Esther Dijkstra, mortgage director at Halifax.

The average first time buyer last year was 32 years old, and paid a 53,935-pound ($73,125) deposit on a home priced at an average 264,140 pounds. The latter two figures are down 6% and up 3% respectively from the previous year.

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