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First-timers told to buy now

First-time buyers watching the unsure homes market have been told that it could be a good time to get their foot on the property ladder, despite the belief that property prices have not yet bottomed out.

As the European Central Bank (ECB) currently shows no sign of raising interest rates, the Professional Insurance Brokers' Association (PIBA) said that first-time buyers looking to become property owners might be well advised to move while some long-term fixed rates are still reasonable.

"Even if property prices may not have reached the bottom, delaying in buying could mean that interest rate increases could work out more expensive than the benefit derived from a further drop in property prices," said Rachel Doyle from PIBA.

The ECB has firmly refused to bow to pressure yesterday to reduce its key interest rate below 1pc in response to the existing financial turmoil.

Any move to bring down the ECB rate further would have been an additional welcome boost to more than 400,000 people on tracker mortgages.