For what it's worth

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The Independent Online
The first-time buyer seems to be going the way of the golden eagle. Occasionally a few pairs are sighted, but if they are to nest successfully they need to be painstakingly nurtured and jealously protected. It is their disappearance, more than anything else, that has caused the Corporate Estate Agents' group to report a fall of 15 per cent in activity in the property market during the first half of 1995, compared to the same period last year. The average age of a first-time buyer has now soared to 32, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. However, just six years ago, the average first-timer was only in his or her mid-twenties.

Those who do buy now can generally afford to start further up the property ladder, buying houses or large flats. This leaves the owners of small flats and starter homes - many of whom are already in negative equity - with no buyers for their property. Hence the value of their homes continues to fall.

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