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Third of UK home owners can’t afford to move up the housing ladder

On average, current mortgage holders believe they need to save £10,549 before they can move and high house prices and the expense of moving are cited as the two main reasons people haven’t yet moved up the property ladder.

The research from comparison website MoneySuperMarket found that 26% think it will be difficult to move up and a further 9% think it will be very difficult.

This rises to 41% among those aged between 35 and 54 years who would find it tough to upscale their current property, while 28% of 18 to 34 year olds think the same.

‘There was a time when those in the 35 to 54 age group would have been looking to downsize, but now this is the age group where people are starting a family in some cases or still housing grown up children who are struggling to find their own way,’ said Kevin Mountford, head of banking at MoneySuperMarket.

‘Although they might have the earning potential to make that next step there is the constraint of mortgage term that comes with their age. Lenders will tend to fix the term of repayment to retirement age, so for those movers aged over 34 the repayments on increased value mortgages will be much higher as they’re paying it back over a shorter time,’ he explained.

‘For example a £250,000 mortgage on the leading two year fixed at 1.05% could be taken out by a 30 year old with a 30 year term and the monthly repayments would be £810. However for someone aged 45, the same mortgage over a 20 year term would have monthly repayments of £1,155, that’s £345 extra to find each month to make that next move,’ he added.

Overall money is the main reason property owners would find it hard to move on up with 47% saying that house prices are so high they can’t afford to take the next step yet, while 43% simply can’t afford the cost of moving.

Indeed, current homeowners think they’d need to save up £10,549 on average before they’d be able to move home while those in London estimate they’d need £12,946 on average to move, compared with £6,772 in the North East of the country.

‘Getting a foot on the property ladder in the first place can be hard work, but for many homeowners it’s just as difficult to take the next step. House prices have rocketed in recent years and tougher borrowing rules have made the search for a mortgage slightly harder,’ said Mountford.

‘It is vital for a healthy housing market that people are able to move up the property ladder otherwise the whole system can come to a grinding halt, leading to a shortage of property. As a result, second steppers can’t afford to be complacent when it comes to deciding whether to upsize their home. Planning a budget will be crucial, and really taking the time to sit down and work out exactly what costs will be involved is essential,’ he pointed out.

‘The good news for those looking to move is that there’s a great deal of competition in the mortgage market at the moment. We’ve seen a huge drop in fixed mortgage rates over the past few years, some with manageable fees. Perks such as free legal costs and free valuations on properties are also offered by some lenders in order to get customers through their doors. As such, there really hasn’t been a better time to get a mortgage,’ he added.

He also pointed out that it is important to always look at the bigger picture when searching for a new mortgage. ‘Don’t get lured in by a headline rate, and work out the total cost you have to repay over the term of the offer before agreeing to a deal. Also, think about whether you want a fixed or variable rate deal, if you opt for a variable rate mortgage, you need to ensure that you will be able to afford your monthly repayments if and when interest rates do rise as they won’t stay at this level forever,’ he concluded.