First Time Buyers Now Facing a Bigger Challenge Than Ever Before

That’s a dramatic headline, to be sure, but it is supported by figures gleaned from UK Finance and revealed in a Which? news report. The data covers the period from 1977 until the second quarter of 2017, and it shows the median amount borrowed by first-time buyers today is higher than ever. Two contrasting times More concerning is the fact that income has not risen anywhere near as much in that same period. In 1979, the median household income for borrowers was £4,451. Meanwhile, the median amount borrowed to fund a house purchase was £8,376. Fast-forward to today and we see a very different picture. The median income now is £40,795. If we put this next to the median amount borrowed, which is £137,719 for the second quarter in 2017, we can see a huge difference in the distance between those two figures. “A vast difference” “Comparing today’s housing market to that of the Seventies is going to present some stark contrasts,” said Darren Pescod, CEO of The Mortgage Broker Limited. “Most notable is that someone buying a property in 1977 could expect to do so while borrowing less than double the amount they earned each year. Today, the multiple has significantly increased, reaching 3.58 times the income earned by that household. “The other point to remember is that these figures are median figures. They lie at the midpoint of the low and high values represented by the data. As such, some people may be in a position where they’d need to borrow far more than the median figure of 3.58 times their income to even consider getting a mortgage.” Will this trend reverse? It’s doubtful. The overall trend has always been upwards, except for a two-year period between 2007 and 2009. In 2007, the median income stood at £35,000. Two years later, it had dropped slightly to £34,700. Meanwhile, the amounts borrowed took a bigger tumble during that time. The median figure in 2007 was £116,549, and this fell to £100,299 two years later – taking the biggest dip in that second year. It is no coincidence this fell in line with the recession. However, it is not all bad news. The number of first-time buyers as a percentage of all home loans has been climbing steadily over the past few years. Back in 2004, first-time buyers represented just 29% of the total. Now, that has risen to 48%, as seen last year. It has stalled somewhat since enjoying a boost between 2010 and 2014, but this must still be great news for those who are considering purchasing their first property. There is the distinct possibility of a forthcoming spanner in the works, however. We know interest rates are almost certain to be raised very soon. How soon remains to be seen. But if and when this occurs, it will have a knock-on effect on the figures we are likely to see in the coming months and years relating to first-time buyers.

Published on 31 October 2017

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