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First-time buyers are wealthier and older

Written by: Owain Thomas
Analysis of the official English Housing Survey by UK Finance found that longstanding demographic factors have led to changes in the characteristics of first-time buyers (FTBs).

According to the 2015/16 data there are fewer very young (16- to 24-year-olds) and older (55 or over) first-time buyers compared with 10 and 20 years ago.

The results also showed that owning a home was becoming increasingly restricted to just the wealthiest people.

Two-thirds (66%) of first-time buyers came from the top 40% of earners, compared to just 58% a decade ago, while three-quarters were from dual income households (up from 66%).

Strong aspirations

UK Finance (previously the Council of Mortgage Lenders) noted that despite all of this, aspirations among those in the private rented sector have not been dented, as 59% of private renters expected to buy at some point in the future.

It said this proportion had remained stable since 2006/07. And was in-line with its own research.

Affordability is the chief concern among potential first-timers with 70% of private tenants who do not expect to buy citing this constraint.

And half of those (47%) who had considered applying for a mortgage but had not done so felt they did not have a large enough deposit.

Many factors

UK Finance added that many of the demographic factors changing the characteristics of first-time buyers pre-dated the financial crisis and included:

  • Strong inward migration into the UK since the late 1990s, especially among younger age groups;
  • An ageing population, with the median age in the UK expected to increase by six years by 2080, and the share of over 65s to exceed a quarter of the population;
  • Couples marrying later than in previous generations, and having children at an older age;
  • And individuals remaining in higher education for longer and forming households at a later age.

There has also been a sustained and significant shortage of new properties being built underpinning these demographic changes during this time.

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