Covid pushes up average age of first-time buyers

By Simoney Kyriakou

Covid-19 and the rising cost of living has pushed up the average age of first-time buyers in Britain by two years.

Before the pandemic, the average age of a first-time buyer was 32, based on analysis of Land Registry data and figures from comparison website GetAgent's partner estate agents.

But despite a property market boom across the UK during the pandemic, Covid may have pushed the average age of a first-time buyer up by almost two years, meaning the average Briton will be 34 by the time they purchase their first home. 

By comparison, the average age of a first-time buyer in 2002 was 31 while in the 1990s it was approximately 29, according to market analysis by Which.

Founder and chief executive of GetAgent.co.uk, Colby Short, founder and chief executive of GetAgent.co.uk, said: "Buying that first home has always been one of life’s milestones and in recent times it has become particularly hard to reach.

"This is as a result of ever increasing house prices, with first-time buyers saving for far longer simply to amass enough to secure a mortgage deposit."

The analysis by GetAgent.co.uk, as outlined in the graphic below, found that those who were put on furlough may find it even harder to build up that much-needed deposit.

With the average gross UK salary sitting at £31,646 at the time the furlough scheme was active, according to government data, the average person will have retained an income of £31,868 over the 19 months the scheme was in place, a loss of £7,967 for the average person when compared to their regular income.

With the average first-time buyer house price coming in at £199,246 in 2020, according to the Land Registry, the average first-time buyer was looking at a 15 per cent deposit of £29,887 in order to secure their first home. 

This milestone was taking Brits 6.6 years to accomplish, based on saving 20 per cent of net income a month (£377) and purchasing their first home at the age of 32. 

However, with furlough setting them back by £7,967 it would require a further 1.8 years of saving this average of £377 a month to bridge the mortgage deposit gap caused by Covid. 

As a result, Short said those first-time buyers who were attempting to climb the ladder during the pandemic will have seen their average age when purchasing pushed back to almost 34. 

Short added: "The pandemic will have only added to this difficulty and those who were furloughed, or worse made redundant, will have seen their journey to homeownership become all the longer as a result of a reduction in earnings and their ability to save.”

Additional stress points

Saving alone can be hard enough, but according to Christina Melling, chief executive of house buying adviser Stipendium, there are also hidden fees and expenses, as well as the stress for first-time buyers of making that first purchase.

This is why she urges individuals to get professional help and to start the process as early as possible. 

She said: "Buying a home can be a long, expensive, and stressful journey, but there are so many ways of reducing the time, cost and emotional impact of your purchase. 

"The best place to start is being very well prepared and staying on top of your responsibilities throughout the process. Don’t wait until the last minute to commission surveys, for example, and don’t wait until you’ve made an offer to start the mortgage process. 

"But this due diligence still takes an enormous amount of effort and time and not only is this tough to balance with the wider requirements of daily life, but for those buying their first home it’s often impossible to know what’s required and when."

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