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Brits ‘locked out’ of ever owning a home when they pass the age of 39

According to the most recent English Housing Survey , the average age of a first-time buyer in 2017/18 was 32.9.

While that’s an improvement on the year before, when it stood at 33.2, it’s been on a steady upward trajectory for more than a decade – in 2006 when it was just 30.3.

But how long do you have you buy?

The survey from JUST found a marked change in people’s attitudes towards buying as they get older.

For example, more than half (56%) of those aged 20-29 intend to buy at some point, which only drops slightly to 48% for those in their thirties.

People lose faith after they turn 40 (Image: PA)

But while life may start at 40, homeownership doesn’t ‒ the proportion of those aged 40-49 who intend to buy crashes to 27%, and continues to fall from this point, reaching just 3% of the over 70s.

It’s worth noting that there is a clear correlation between the drop off in those intending to buy, and the increase in the number who feel they are unable to buy.

Around one in five (21%) of those in their 20s reckon they are simply unable to get onto the housing ladder, but this hits 31% for those 40-49 and continues rising from there.

My father was a tenant, his father was a tenant

If your parents rented, then you're more likely to be a tenant for life too.
If your parents rented, then you’re more likely to be a tenant for life too. (Image: Getty)

Renting seems to run in the family, according to the study, which found that people whose parents never made it onto the property ladder were twice as likely to be renting as those whose parents ended up owning their own property.

Two in five renters (42%) had parents who rent or rented, compared to a little under one in five (19%) of those whose parents were on the housing ladder.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you’re more likely to end up owning a home if your parents did too ‒ 81% of current homeowners had parents who were on the housing ladder.

“I don’t believe my son will ever own a home”

Lynne Smith doesn't believe her youngest child will ever own his own home.
Lynne Smith doesn’t believe her youngest child will ever own his own home.

Lynne Smith, 56, rents a property in Essex with her husband and 26-year-old son.

Her parents were renters, and while her oldest son has managed to buy a property, she doesn’t believe her younger child will ever manage to do the same.

Lynne helped her oldest to buy, as he has a new family and wanted the security of a “forever home”.

She says: “Renting has its perks – you can easily phone up the landlord to help with repairs – but I don’t think it’s fair that the prospects of homeownership are significantly higher for people whose parents owned a home. I want both children to have equal opportunities.”

Passing down bricks and mortar to the next generation

If your parents are already on the housing ladder, they may be able to use that wealth to give you a helping hand.
If your parents are already on the housing ladder, they may be able to use that wealth to give you a helping hand.

It’s not just that seeing your parents own their own home makes you more likely to want to do the same, though there will be an element of that.

It’s also the fact that having parents on the housing ladder can make it easier for you to do so.

Parents have been helping their children get onto the housing ladder for years, whether that’s by topping up deposits or even assisting with the actual mortgage itself. However, the scale of the Bank of Mum and Dad has really taken off of late.

Data from Legal & General suggests that around 259,000 housing purchases in 2019 supported in some way by parental help. In total, an eye-watering £6.26bn will be handed over in some form by parents to give their children a helping hand in purchasing a property.

Buying seems impossible to many (Image: Getty)

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And it’s much easier for parents to provide that assistance if they are already on the housing ladder themselves. For example, they could remortgage or use an equity release plan in order to tap into their housing wealth which they could then hand over to the child to use as a deposit.

Alternatively, some mortgages allow parents to use their property as security. The Post Office’s family link mortgage for example sees the child borrow 90% of the value of the property they want to buy, while a further 10% is secured against the value of the parent’s home and essentially works as the deposit.

People that don’t have parents already on the housing ladder are locked out of such schemes and left to try to build up a deposit on their own, which is inevitably more difficult than if you can turn to your loved ones for a bit of support.