New YBS report explores first time buyers challenges

Young adults in Britain rank buying their own home as their number one life ambition, ahead of marriage, children or getting ahead in their careers, new research for Yorkshire Building Society has revealed.

But the gap between ambition and reality is causing an “early-life crisis” for many, with just one in three of those within this age group who are yet to buy a home saying they have been able to make a realistic plan to buy in the next five years.

This crisis of confidence is clearly illustrated in the report, entitled ‘First-time buyers – an early life crisis: Britain’s homeownership aspirations’. It can be downloaded via the link below.

The survey of 1,003 non-homeowners and 1,005 homeowners aged 18 to 40 was conducted by NatCen, an independent social research institute commissioned by the Society to understand the challenges faced by would-be first-time buyers in today's property market.

It shows that as the would-be first-time buyers questioned within this age group get older, their hopes of buying a home fade. Four out of five 18 to 24-year-olds say they believe it is likely they will become homeowners, but just half of 35 to 40-year-olds express the same optimism.

More than a quarter (28%) of people questioned aged 25 to 40 said that owning a property was more important to them than getting married, having children or achieving their career aims.

And 69% of all respondents questioned believed owning their own home was essential to feeling they had succeeded in life.

However, there is still some cause for optimism – almost half of potential first time buyers say they are saving to buy a place of their own, including even a quarter of those who doubt they would ever achieve their property ambitions.

Andy Caton, Executive Director at Yorkshire Building Society, said: “It’s alarming that a relatively small proportion of those who want to buy a home will be in a position to do so within the next two to five years.

“Young adults in the UK clearly perceive homeownership as one of life’s major landmarks, with the next generation of homeowners seeing it as more important than getting married or having children.

“For young Britons, homeownership is about more than simply bricks and mortar – it’s intrinsically linked to our identity and feelings of security, maturity and success. Not being able to achieve those ambitions creates an early-life crisis for many young people.

“Whilst it’s really encouraging to see that first-time buyers are forming realistic plans to overcome the barriers and achieve their homeownership ambitions, it’s also clear that many young people find themselves in an increasingly difficult place financially when they seek to make that initial step on to the property ladder.”

Download the report

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