UK house prices: Is this the return of the first-time buyer?

 
Billy Ehrenberg
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First time buyers have been finding it increasingly hard to get on the housing ladder (Source: Getty)

As UK house prices have risen, so has the story of the death of the first-time buyer.

New data suggests this despair may have come too soon, however. A third of people feel better placed to move home than they did 12 months ago, despite wage growth lagging far behind house price inflation.

The figures

Younger generations (those aged 18-34) are feeling more positive compared to older buyers, with 42 per cent of those polled indicating themselves better placed to buy a house. This age group is most likely to include first-time buyers.

That number comes in at 23 per cent for buyers aged between 35 and 49 and to 24 per cent for 50-59 year olds. Those aged between 60 and 69 years were least likely to feel in a better position: just 21 per cent felt more confident than 12 months ago.

Improving buyer sentiment: Who feels better placed to buy a home than a year ago?

 

18-34 year olds: 42 per cent

 

35-49 year olds: 23 per cent

 

50-59 year olds: 24 per cent

 

60-69 year olds: 21 per cent

Why it's interesting

Even though house price growth has slowed recently (to 5.6 per cent in the year to February, according to the Office for National Statistics), it is still climbing far above wage growth (1.7 per cent growth for the three months ending February, compared to the same three months a year earlier).

The reason for increased optimism may be down to the record employment rate of 73.5 per cent – the highest since records began.

First-time buyers have been finding it increasingly hard to get on the ladder, especially in London where house-price growth has consistently been the highest in the country.

From a political point of view the results are interesting: getting people on the housing ladder is a key element of the price of living bubble, and if sentiment has improved that can only help the Conservatives.

What Saga said

Emma Myers, head of wills, probate and lifetime planning for Saga Legal Services said:

While it's good to see that things are improving for the younger generations, people over 60 are less likely to feel they are in a better position to move, this is probably because many have retired and are therefore now on a fixed income

In short

First-time buyers will continue to feel the squeeze until wage growth rises. House prices may well see a jump after the election as uncertainty usually dulls growth, meaning the pressure will build again.

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