First time buyers have to compromise but generally find it an exciting experience

Buyers in the UK are increasingly looking wider afield or their first home and despite the costs and financial pressures of getting on the housing ladder they see it as an exciting time of their life, new research suggests.

Many first time buyers who have bought in the last two years say that they had to make compromises, with locations being a major one as they sought properties within their budget.

Some 70% ended up buying a home an average of 26 minutes away from their original and preferred location, according to the study from Post Office Money.

While 16% didn’t have to adjust their expectations at all, 5% compromised in terms of having a suitable garden, 3% on the availability of a car parking space and 4% ended up buying a property that needed some structural work which had not been their original intention.

‘With average house price growth having increased by 48% since 2005, compared with an increase to the average first time buyer income of only 37% over the same period, there is no question that the UK housing market remains a challenging environment for many,’ said Owen Woodley, managing director, Post Office Money.

‘In spite of this we’re seeing that first time buyers approach the market with enthusiasm and flexibility. Our data also shows that 62% of home sales are still in areas across the country that remain within reach for those looking to take their first steps on the property ladder,’ he added.

The research also looked at the motivation to get on the housing ladder and found that 24% did so after meeting someone and wanting to set up home together, while 21% wanted the long term security associated with owning a home. Some 16% wanted to move out of their parent’s or a family home while 15% felt it was expected that at their age they should own their own home.

When it came to finance 25% said they decided to buy as they felt they were spending too much on rent and it wasn’t a good investment, 23% had saved enough for a deposit and 18% regarded buying a property as the best investment for their money in the long term.

The survey found that 44% believed the experience of being a first time buyer was exciting or joyful, but 24% said they also found it to be stressful, 12% found it frustrating, 9% daunting and 4% saw the process as exhausting.

Some 83% said that their application for a mortgage was approved first time around, although many were unable to buy without financial help as 51% got financial support from friends or family, with 44% asking for this help.

The worst parts of the experience of buying a first home included uncertainty, anxiety and stress which 28% said they encountered while 24% said it was unanticipated costs such as solicitor fees and 15% said it was having to borrow money from loved ones.

The survey asked first time buyers what tips they would pass on and 32% said to see lots of properties before choosing, 31% said think long term, 29% said being flexible about the type of property, 27% to be flexible about location, 25% to see the future potential, not just the property as presented and 25% to start with areas that are affordable.