A combination of an increase in house prices and a reduction in the amount of mortgage lending by many banks and building societies means that house buyers face an almost tenfold increase (9.7 times) in the required deposit on a property. House prices have also risen in the same period by a factor of 4.32. With the average household income having risen by just 2.53 times in the same period, buyers must now save for far longer to achieve this milestone purchase.
The research also found that 2010 was the most difficult year to buy a house in the past twenty years with the average house price 6.3 times the average household income, and the average deposit running at 1.7 times the average income. The most affordable years were 1995 and 1996, with the house price ratio at a low 3.4 and the deposit ratio also the lowest it has been at 0.3 times the average household income.
Effect of Recession on Property Affordability
The past two decades have endured two recessions – the early 90s recession which lasted from Q3 1990 to Q2 1992 and the late 2000s recession which officially ran from Q3 2008 to Q4 2009. In the first recession, household income rose albeit modestly and the average deposit required dropped and stayed low for most of the 1990s as did inflation – good news for first time buyers (see Fig 2).
However, the more recent recession has been less kind both to existing homeowners and especially to first time buyers. Between 2008 and 2009, average household income dropped by £1,688. While house prices also dropped by £10,148, a negative development for existing homeowners, the average required deposit rose by over £10,000 in one year alone, hitting first time buyers particularly hard. Despite house prices recovering somewhat, to date the average housing deposit has risen by £22,451 since 2007 heaping misery on FTBs, whose average age has risen to 374.
Indeed, the average LTV in 1990 was 88%, rising to 90% in the mid 90s and now at its lowest ever at 73%1.
Directly comparing the two recessions, the 90’s downturn was tougher on existing homeowners with mortgage rates hitting 15% it drove homeowners into forced sales and prices fell dramatically. Whereas the 2000s downturn was tougher on house buyers, with base rate close to zero, homeowners have been protected and house prices have been maintained, leaving first time buyers struggling to afford a home or save a big enough deposit. The house price to income ratio is evidence of this, it was much higher in 2010 than in 1992 (6.3 compared with 3.4), and the deposit to income ratio was also far higher in 2010 (1.7) compared with 1992 (0.4).
Bruno Genovese, Senior Savings Product Manager at first direct said,
“Much has been made of rising house prices, but the average deposit needed in the first place has actually risen more than twice as fast as house prices and almost four times as fast as income. This is why we are seeing first time buyers getting older, with more and more people struggling to get on the property ladder.
“In this climate, it really is important that people save as much as they can to raise the money for a deposit. Longer term savings accounts offer a better return and remove the temptation to dip into the funds so these are a good option for people determined to save.”
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