After falling dramatically over the past couple of months, mortgage sales rebounded in October, surging by 18% and buoyed by a record number of first homebuyers.

The latest data from Australian Finance Group (AFG) showed the number of borrowers buying for the first time jumped by 60% from the middle of the year, thanks to lower interest rates, cheaper properties and the government boost.

The number of customers refinancing also climbed sharply to an all-time high of 40.9% in the same period as borrowers hunt for the best deals on offer.

Most borrowers expected further rate cuts, with a record 51.2% opting for standard variable rate loans.

"Despite the turmoil in the global markets, this is a good time to be a first-time buyer," said Mark Hewitt, general manager with AFG. "Property prices are more attractive then they have been for a while, government incentives are more generous than ever before, and the rates are on their way down. We're also experiencing an unprecedented level of refinancing as buyers abandon second-tier lenders for the major banks, who now control 89% of the mortgage market."

If you're thinking of refinancing, be aware that there are massive costs involved in breaking your loan and switching to another lender. For an in-depth report on how to negotiate a good deal and save thousands on your mortgage, read the latest issue of Your Mortgage magazine, out on sale now.

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