First-time buyers 'need average £29,000 deposit'

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The Independent Online

First-time buyers are having to find average deposits of nearly £29,000 in order to get on to the property ladder, research showed today.

The typical first-time buyer put down a deposit of £28,770 during 2010 - the equivalent of 21% of the value of the home they were buying, according to mortgage lender Halifax.



The figure is nearly three times the typical deposit of £9,865 saved by people buying their first home in 2000.



The situation is even worse for first-time buyers in London, who had to find deposits of just over £56,000, while those in the South East had to save more than £37,000, and people in the South West put down nearly £33,000.



The huge deposits first-time buyers now have to find are due to a combination of house price rises during the past decade, as well as banks and building societies tightening their lending criteria as a result of the credit crunch.



But it would take a first-time buyer on an average salary of £25,000 18 months to raise the money they need if they saved every penny they earned after tax, while it would take them 15 years to amass the sum if they set aside 10% of their take-home pay each month.



Unsurprisingly, the large deposits people are currently putting down has led to a significant increase in the average age of a first-time buyer.



Although the typical age of someone buying their home during 2010 remained unchanged at 29, the Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that between 80% and 85% of these buyers received help from family and friends in putting together their deposit.



Once these buyers are stripped out, the average age of someone getting on to the property ladder who did not receive financial assistance jumped to 36, up from 33 in 2007.



The high deposits lenders are currently demanding from borrowers in order for them to qualify for their best rates is preventing many first-time buyers from taking advantage of considerable improvements in affordability seen since house prices first started to fall in 2007.



Around 40% of local authority areas are now affordable for first-time buyers, based on house prices being less than four times average local earnings, compared with just 6% in 2007 - the year in which house prices peaked.



Despite this, the figure is still well down on the 82% of areas that were affordable in 2000. Halifax said the average price paid for a home by a first-time buyer had more than doubled during the past decade, rising from £68,644 in 2000 to £138,682 now.



But on a brighter note, record low interest rates have helped reduce the proportion of their take-home pay that first-time buyers have to spend on mortgage interest to its lowest level for 12 years of 27% - well down on the 50% it peaked at in September 2007.



First-time buyers have also been helped by the Government's stamp duty holiday, with only 5% of people getting on to the property ladder between April and November this year paying the tax, due to the temporary increase in the level at which it kicks in from £125,000 to £250,000.



Across the UK around 39% of first-time buyers have benefited from the increase, rising to 73% in the South East.



But despite low interest rates, house price falls and the stamp duty holiday, the number of people buying their first home is still only around half the level seen before the credit crunch struck at 200,000, compared with 400,500 in 2006.



Terraced houses remained the most popular type of property for people buying their first home, accounting for 42% of sales to first-time buyers, followed by semi-detached homes at 28% and flats at 24%.

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