The share of Scottish towns and cities that are affordable for first-time buyers has risen to its highest level since 2005, according to a new study.
The latest Bank of Scotland First-Time Buyer Review found those taking their first step on the property ladder will find homes within their means in 93% of local authority areas - the highest proportion for seven years.
This is up from 75% a year ago and more than double the proportion of affordable local authority areas at the peak of the housing market in 2007, when only 43% were affordable.
The number of first-time buyers has also risen in the past year which Bank of Scotland said is down to affordability.
The recent ending of the stamp duty holiday is also likely to have boosted the number of first-time buyers in the first six months of 2012 as some brought forward their purchases to meet the March deadline.
It is estimated that there were approximately 9000 first-time buyers in Scotland in the first half of 2012.
This is just over a fifth higher than in the same period in 2011.
South Ayrshire is the most affordable location for a first-time buyer in Scotland with an average property price that is 2.47 gross average annual earnings. Stirling is the second most affordable in Scotland (2.64) while Aberdeenshire is the least affordable (4.31).
The proportion of affordable local authorities in Scotland as a whole is close to double the UK average.
Nitesh Patel, housing economist at Bank of Scotland, said: "With first-time buyers forming a vital part of the Scottish housing market, it is clearly encouraging that the number of those getting onto the property ladder for the first time may well increase this year, albeit from a historically low level.
"This partly reflects the substantial improvement in home affordability for first-time buyers since 2007, following the fall in house prices over the period.
"However, the continued uncertainty over the outlook for the Scottish economy and the difficulties faced by many in raising the necessary deposit remain significant hurdles for those wishing to buy their first home."
The list of the ten most affordable local authorities in Scotland for first-time buyers is listed below:
- South Ayrshire
- East Ayrshire
- North Ayrshire
- North Lanarkshire
- South Lanarkshire