Halifax: Record number of first-time buyers joined market in 2021

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The most affordable place for a first-time buyer (FTB) to bun the UK was Clackmannanshire in 2021, in a year that saw new buyers boost the housing market by a record rate, according to Halifax.

The average FTB price to earnings ratio for a home in the Scottish local authority came in a 3.0, while the authority with the highest ratio was Brent where homes are 12.3 times average earnings, according to the building society’s First-Time Buyer Review 2021.

House price growth has outstripped incomes, with the average price to earnings ratio for UK FTBs standing at 6.9 times average earnings, says the report.

It adds: “The price of an average FTB home is now less than four times the average income, considered the limit for affordability, in just 15 local authorities around the UK.”

But the survey points out that despite squeezes on affordability, 409,370 FTBs bought a home last year, rising by a record 35%. These buyers accounted for 48% of the overall property market.

It says the average FTB last year was 32 years old and put down a £53,935 deposit on a property costing £264,140, which is a 3% rise on asking prices in 2020.

As more buyers entered the market the average FTB deposit fell 6% across the UK to £53,935, with only Wales (where it rose 4% to £33,622) and Scotland (where it also rose 4% to £37,038) noting an increase regionally.

But the survey adds: “This fall in the UK average was set against a rise in the average purchase price of first homes, which meant that, overall, the gap between purchase price and deposit widened in every region.”

FTBs looking for affordability found the best deals in Scotland with West Dunbartonshire, with homes at 3.2 times earnings and East Ayrshire, also at 3.2, completing the top three with Clackmannanshire.

The least affordable homes were all in London with Camden, at 12.2 times earnings and Haringey, at 11.4, completing the top three with Brent.

As the report points out, the average age at which someone buys their first home rose to 32, this up from 29 in 2011 and is now over 30 in every UK region.

Halifax mortgage director Esther Dijkstra says: “There were a number of factors influencing home-buying decisions in 2021.

“While working from home and the ‘race for space’ was key for many, particularly movers, it’s clear that the stamp duty holiday increased the availability of first-rung homes as others moved up the ladder.

She adds: “Lifestyles have changed, over time more people have chosen to go on to higher education, go travelling, or move around for work, which are all factors in the increase in first-time buyer age.

“However, undoubtedly, the biggest drivers are the cost of homes and the need to save a significant deposit to get on the housing ladder.

“In 2021, the increase in average house price to £264,140, combined with difficulties in raising a deposit, meant that the gap between purchase price and deposit widened in every region in the UK.”

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