Nila Sweeney

More Australians are interested in buying a first home now, drawn especially by the historically low interest rates, according to a new survey by a mortgage broker.

Some 76% of potential first homebuyers are planning to buy a house, according to the nationwide survey of 1,012 people by Mortgage Choice, released this month. That figure is a 40% increase on last year's survey, conducted in July, when only slightly more than half the respondents said they were interested in buying one.

But rather than live further out in a newly built property, most prefer to stick to existing structures. So, despite the government incentive favouring new homes that includes $7,000 or more in grants, the survey also showed 71% of respondents plan to buy an established home.

As well as gauging interest in buying, the study looked into motivation, and the leading factor was the low interest rates, influencing 65% of respondents, followed by 54% who had already planned to purchase a property for a long time. Low property prices at 49% was another factor, as was the increase to the First Home Owner Grant at 45%. Some 35% said current rents were driving them into considering a purchase.

"We are living in rapidly evolving conditions, but it appears that many potential first-timers are finally coming out of their shells and are determined to snap up a bargain," said Mortgage Choice Senior Corporate Affairs Manager Kristy Sheppard.

She said buyers seem to have more confidence than in the previous year.

Some 12% of respondents said they planned to turn their first purchase into an investment property.

Despite growing unemployment and financial woes - or perhaps because of them - more first homebuyers are saving more money as well. Some 66% had saved more than $10,000 this year, compared to 43% last year.

"It's great to see first homebuyers have been saving hard for their deposits," says Sheppard. "It seems they are pulling through the financial crisis - with remarkable results."

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