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Affordability improves but first-time buyers still need decade to save deposit

Written by: Max Liu
Londoners face the steepest challenge, but in which region can aspiring homeowners most quickly save a deposit?
Affordability improves but first-time buyers still need decade to save deposit

The time it takes first-time buyers in England and Wales to save a deposit has fallen, according to research by Hamptons International.

On average it took a single first-time buyer in full-time work 10 years and three months to save a 15 per cent deposit in the final quarter of 2018 – six months fewer than two years ago.

Affordability has improved slightly but a first-time buyer who started saving now would still have to wait until July 2029 before they had their deposit, the survey found.

For couples in full-time work the period is half that of their single counterparts – four years and nine months on average to raise a 15 per cent deposit – in part because sharing rent and every day household bills means they can save faster.

The figures also revealed regional differences. Single Londoners faced by far the steepest challenges, as it would take them on average 15 years and nine months to save their deposit, although that was three months fewer than two years ago. Couples in the capital would have to save for seven years and six months.

The quickest place to save for a home was the North East, where it would take two years and nine months on average. The North East is the only region where it is quicker today for a couple to save a deposit than it was a decade ago.

10-year change

Although the picture is still daunting for those trying to save their first deposits, the outlook is more promising than it was a decade ago for single people – six months quicker in three out of 10 regions.

London, the South East and the South West were the only regions where it took longer to save for a deposit in 2018 than 2008. In the capital, it took a year and nine months longer to save for a home than it did 10 years ago.

The difficulties faced by first-time buyers have been cited as a factor in the growth of equity release, as asset-rich retirees try to release money from their property to give to their children and grandchildren who are trying to get on the property ladder.

‘Biggest barrier’

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons International, noted that saving a deposit was still the biggest barrier to buying a home, but that things did improve in 2018.

“Slowing house price growth – which is expected to continue – combined with rising wages, meant that last year it was six months quicker to save for a home than it was two years earlier,” she said.

“However, despite the slight improvement in affordability it still takes a single person more than a decade to save up to buy a home.

“Conditions are hardest in the capital where house prices have increased the most over the last decade. Despite price growth cooling off more recently, it still takes a single person over 15 years to save up for a 15% deposit for a home in the capital.

“This is over nine years longer than in the North East, which is the quickest region to save for a home,” she added.

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