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Homeownership slips away for more than 2 million people

While homeownership ultimately remains an aspiration for the majority of young people, new research shows that growing numbers of people feel they will never get a foot on the housing ladder.

Almost three quarters (71%) of non-homeowners currently hope that they will buy a property one day in the future, but of this number, more than half (52%) say they don’t believe they will ever be able to, according to the latest study from HomeOwners Alliance.

This amounts to around 3.9 million people who do not expect that homeownership is something they will ever experience. This scenario is certainly nothing new, with rising house prices and greater difficulty in saving for a deposit leading to many people either living at home for longer, or renting property instead.

Of course, the remaining 29% of Brits who are not homeowners currently are presumably happier renting or living with parents, or have another circumstance which means they do not aspire to purchase a home of their own.

Over recent years, the percentage of people aspiring to homeownership has actually fallen, according to HomeOwners Alliance. The last set of research from 2019 found that 72% of non-homeowners would like to own in the future (higher than the current 71%), while in 2018 it was 74%, so the figure has fallen.

What are the barriers to homeownership?

According to HomeOwners Alliance’s survey, the most prominent thing blocking homeownership for many people was high house prices, cited by 60% of respondents. Property prices in the UK have climbed continuously over the past decade – with occasional small troughs as well as the recent, swift acceleration in the post-Covid period.

This naturally leads onto the next big issue for prospective first-time buyers, which was saving for a deposit for 44% of people. While house prices have soared, so too have rental costs, and these have continued to rise even while property prices have plateaued very recently, which can make it harder for people to save if they are renting.

Ability to afford the monthly mortgage payments was next on the list for 33% of people blocked from homeownership, followed by 31% who said it was their ability to get a mortgage approved. Other buying costs, such as the survey and legal fees, were also a problem for 21% of people.

Almost a fifth (18%) of people said they were just not at a stage in life to commit to buying, which is where the private rented sector can be essential. For those who have recently moved to a new area, or want to live with friends or in a particular location without the long-term commitment, renting is the ideal option for many.

Other issues noted were lack of suitable housing (17%), uncertainty of interest rates (14%), concern about job security (13%), stress of the homebuying process (12%), being a bad time to buy (11%), the stress of moving house (10%), stamp duty rates (6%), and being put off by leasehold (4%).

A tipping point for buyers

Commenting on the findings, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, Paula Higgins said: “Brits are giving up on their dream of homeownership, our damning survey reveals. The government has failed aspiring homeowners, and continues to degrade the life chances of young people by continually not building enough homes.

“This shortage of new homes has led to rocketing house prices, leaving aspiring homeowners dependent on Mum and Dad to bolster savings or by locking themselves into longer term mortgages which cost them more in the long run.

“While over a decade of low mortgage rates helped the over 35s to buy a place, in today’s broken Britain, homeowners rely on government schemes to get them out of this mess and bridge the affordability gap – except the government’s flagship Help to Buy programme has ended with nothing to fill the void.

“So here we are, at a tipping point. 4 million of the 7.5 million aspiring homeowners in the UK don’t think they will ever be able to own their home. And almost 2 million don’t think they will follow in the footsteps of their home owning parents. We know that the fewer people that own, the worse the prospects of homeownership are for their children.

“With the upcoming election a key issue will be how the parties plan to build more homes and provide much needed support to first time buyers.”

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