Affordability concerns push first-time buyers further afield

Homeownership remains a goal for nearly four in five Brits looking to buy their first home

Affordability concerns push first-time buyers further afield

Affordability issues are driving many first-time buyers to consider properties more than 30 miles from their preferred locations to enter the property market.

A biannual survey of 1,000 aspiring homeowners by saving and investment app Moneybox found that 39% are actively looking at properties in neighbouring areas to increase their chances of finding a home that meets their needs.

Surveyed participants indicated they were most willing to compromise on location to afford features such as a garden (66%), a spare bedroom (53%), an ensuite bathroom (48%), a driveway (47%), or a garage (44%).

The study also showed that financial reasons are not the only motivators for potential homebuyers to look further away. Some are seeking more peaceful surroundings (38%) or safer neighbourhoods with lower crime rates (32%).

First-time buyers in Wales are looking the furthest afield, considering properties an average of 38 miles away. Buyers in London and the South East are prepared to move up to 33 and 37 miles, respectively.

Despite affordability challenges, homeownership remains a key goal for 79% of first-time buyers in the UK, with 62% viewing it as crucial for financial security, up 6% from last year.

“Market volatility over the last few years has really highlighted how compromise is often the key to getting on the property ladder as a first-time buyer,” said Brian Byrnes (pictured), head of personal finance at Moneybox. ‘It’s great to see how first-time buyers have been adapting to make their dream of owning a home a reality, and we see this resilience and commitment every day among our customers.

“However, we also believe that more could be done to help first-time buyers navigate current market conditions with greater confidence. Interest rates and house price growth now mean that more people will struggle with affordability, and so it’s never been more important to save a suitable deposit.”

The Moneybox study also found that 35% of those surveyed feel optimistic about becoming homeowners, and 22% have managed to save more than expected towards their deposit in the last six months.

However, the cost of living continues to impact disposable income for the majority (57%), making it harder for many to save for a deposit alongside rising house prices (51%).

First-time buyers are now saving 18% less towards their first home deposit than a year ago, down from £344 to £286 a month.

Meanwhile, 17% are eagerly awaiting the General Election to see what support may be provided by a new government to aspiring first-time buyers.

“As we enter the final weeks before the General Election, it is clear that more needs to be done to address housing supply and sustainably boost homeownership – without further inflating house prices. However, many of the solutions needed are complex and will take some time to bear fruit,” Byrnes said.

“That is why we’ve been campaigning to future-proof the Lifetime ISA, a hidden gem of a savings product that has supported a whole generation of first-time buyers, buying their first home far sooner than would have otherwise been possible due to the fantastic 25% government bonus on deposit savings.

“We believe first-time buyers deserve all the help they can get and so we are calling on the next government to futureproof the Lifetime ISA and help more people save more money towards their first home deposit.”

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