Around 367,038 first-time buyers secured mortgages in 2018, up from 362,800 in 2017, according to figures released by Yorkshire Building Society.
The analysis indicated that the number of first-time buyer mortgages exceeded 2007 levels, when 359,900 first-time buyers took out mortgages.
It was almost double the 193,300 seen in 2008, when the financial crisis impacted the housing market, and stood just 9% lower than the pre-crisis peak of 402,800 in 2006.
The figures suggested first-time buyer levels have continued to rise and now represent half of all homes bought with a mortgage.
This means that the first-time buyer mortgage market share is at its highest since 1995, when 53% of all mortgage-financed homes were bought by first-time buyers.
Nitesh Patel, Yorkshire Building Society’s strategic economist, said that property prices have grown at a faster rate than wages over the past 12 years, which has created difficulties for first-time buyers.
He added: “However, the figures indicate that government initiatives such as Stamp Duty relief, Help to Buy equity loans and Help to Buy ISAs may have made an impact.
“Over the past three or four years, we’ve also seen more mortgage lenders offering 95% loan-to-value mortgages, as well as strong competition driving mortgage rates down.
“This combination of factors has made buying a home more accessible in recent years. But getting on to the housing ladder is still not an easy step for many young people, as demonstrated by the increasing numbers who have received help from the bank of Mum and Dad.
“Despite these challenges, the first-time buyer market has bounced back following the financial crisis to out-perform other sectors, such as the home-moving and buy-to-let markets.”