FIRST-time buyers in Hereford are being more active in the housing market than at any time over the past two years, according to a legal expert based in the city.

Loretta Aston, of Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors, said she has been 'inundated' with enquiries from first-time buyers looking for new-build properties.

She added that proposed housing developments in Hereford were also a cause of 'real optimism' for house hunters.

"For many young people, the opportunity to buy their own home has been a distant dream in recent years but things are definitely changing," she said.

"Although it has come in for some criticism, the Help to Buy scheme has kick-started the market in many areas and certainly gives people the chance to get their first foot on the property ladder.

"New homes give first-time buyers the chance to take advantage of Help to Buy and shared ownership schemes, and any positive activity such as new developments helps the market as a whole because it increases confidence.

"I have been approached by more first-time buyers recently than at any time over the past two years."

Hereford could be set for thousands of new homes over the coming years, with one proposed development outlining a plan of more than 1,000 houses at Three Elms.

Mrs Aston said that although controversial, building new homes was important for the housing market.

She said: "The market has improved but sellers have been reluctant to agree sales until they have found a suitable property to buy, and there seems to have been a limited number of ordinary family-sized homes on the market in Herefordshire.

"Building helps meet that demand so people can get moving.

"For instance, I have clients who do not want to be out of the property market when they sell in case prices rise and they are priced out of the market, so they are waiting until the right house comes along before selling, and that slows things down significantly.

"New homes give buyers more choice and also entice sellers to put their properties on the market."