First-time buyers hold out for their forever home

  • New data shows first-time buyers are choosing larger houses and the appeal of terraced homes is falling
  • Detached houses and an increased number of bedrooms continue to top the wish list for first-time buyers
  • Average age of a first-time buyer is also on the rise

First-time buyers are increasingly setting their sights on larger, detached homes while starter-homes of the past are being overlooked, according to findings from Yorkshire Building Society.

Detached houses

An analysis of the lender’s first-time buyer mortgages since the financial crash[i] reveals the number of home loans for detached homes has doubled[ii], while those for terraced houses have fallen to a third (34%) from almost half (46%).

Larger homes are also increasingly sought after by first-time buyers compared to 2007. Of the mortgages analysed, home loans for four and five bedroom homes increased significantly[iii] while demand for one bedroom homes fell[iv].

Average age of first-time buyer

The Yorkshire also found the average age of a first-time buyer slightly increased to 31 years old over the decade, from 30 years old.

Charles Mungroo, senior mortgage manager at Yorkshire Building Society, said:

Our findings show how would-be homeowners’ attitudes to buying their first homes have changed over the years, with more focus now seemingly on larger, detached homes compared to the starter homes that once were. It no longer seems to be a first step on the property ladder for many, more the forever home.

Schemes such as Help to Buy, the removal of stamp duty for first-time buyers and the wider availability of mortgages requiring smaller deposits, will have helped those taking the first step on the property ladder, financially allowing them to look at larger properties.

Research[v] by the Yorkshire indicated almost a third (32%) of potential first-time homeowners would aim for a detached house as their first property and nearly half (49%) would consider a semi-detached house. Less than a quarter (24%) would be happy to settle for a studio or flat. To fund their purchase, would-be first-time buyers indicated they would be prepared to save for up to 10 years.

Charles added:

In a housing market often deemed too tough for aspiring homeowners, it’s encouraging to see the strong ambition of first-time buyers and the importance they place on owning a home, which for many is deemed the key milestone in life.

All information correct at time of publication.


[i] The Yorkshire analysed data from first-time buyer mortgages between 2007 and 2018

[ii] The number of home loans for detached homes doubled from 6% in 2007 to 12% in 2018

[iii] Demand for four bedroom homes increased from 6% to almost 12% and five bedroom homes rose from 1% to 2%

[iv] Demand for one bedroom homes fell from 8% in 2007 to 6% in 2018, and two bedroom homes from 38% to 32%.

[v] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 948 potential first-time buyers (next 12 months). Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st March - 11th April 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of potential first-time buyers in the UK.

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