For the first time since 1995, first-time buyers make up more than 50% of the property market, with 372,000 people buying their first home in 2018, according to new data from Halifax.
However, the average age of a first-time buyer has increased to 31 – two years older than 10 years ago – and in London it’s 33.
While the average UK property price for a first home has increased a lot in the past 10 years – up 39% since 2008 – first-time buyers are putting down similarly-sized deposits. This means they’re buying homes at higher loan-to-value ratios, often resulting in higher rates.
Which? looks into where people are putting down the highest and lowest deposits, and explains other property buying costs you’ll need to consider.
How much are first-time buyers paying where you live?
In 2018, the average UK deposit was £32,841 – around 15% of the average property price, Halifax found.
The graph below shows the average amount first-time buyers are putting down as a deposit in each UK local authority, as well as the deposit as a percentage of the average house price.
First-time buyers are paying the lowest deposits as a percentage of the purchase price in East Northamptonshire (£19,871) and South Tyneside (£13,778), where these sums make up 11% of the average home value. This may be due to the average property being fairly cheap, at £182,698 in East Northamptonshire and £120,826 in South Tyneside, so that buyers can afford to borrow up to 90% of its value.
By comparison, buyers in Camden, in north-west London, are putting down the highest percentage deposits, with the average first-timer paying a 30% deposit of £194,373.
Why such a high deposit? The average cost of a home in Camden is a hefty £642,962. Even with higher-than-average London salaries, it’s likely first-time buyers may struggle to borrow more than 70% of the property price – at 4.5x your salary, you’d still need an annual income of £99,687. So saving up a larger deposit may be their only option.
The size of average deposits might surprise you, especially if you’d been planning on getting a 95% LTV mortgage with a 5% deposit. We recently looked into whether saving more – getting a 15% deposit, rather than 10% – would open the door to better rates.
Find out more: how much deposit do you need for a mortgage?
Where are first homes most affordable?
Prices in the area you’re hoping to buy will determine how large of a deposit you need – and your earnings may influence how quickly you can save it up.
Taking into account the house price to average earnings ratio, Pendle in the North West comes out as the most affordable area UK-wide, the Halifax report found. First-time buyers typically pay a 15% deposit of £13,224 and the average first-time buyer house price is just 2.6x the average salary. Indeed to get a 75% mortgage at 4.5x your salary, you’ll need an income of £16,806.
All 10 of the most affordable local authority districts are in the North West of England and Scotland. Other areas include Copeland, East Ayrshire, Inverclyde, South Ayrshrie, Barrow-in-Furness, Hyndburn, West Dunbartonshire, West Lancashire and South Lanarkshire.
Find out more: most affordable areas to buy property in the North West
By contrast, in the London borough of Brent, the average first-time buyer property is 13.3x the average salary. Here, first-time buyers are scraping together a 26% deposit of £129,210 for a property costing £500,088, on average. To secure a 75% LTV mortgage, you’d still need to earn £82,418.
Brent is one of nine London boroughs in the 10 least affordable local authority districts in the UK, joined by Hackney, Newham, Hillingdon, Waltham Forest, Southwark, Haringey, Barnet and Harrow. Oxford is the only area outside of London on the list.
Find out more: where are London’s most affordable homes?
Things to consider when getting your first mortgage
While your mortgage deposit is a huge part of getting on the property ladder, there are many other factors you’ll need to plan for.
There are lots of extra fees to pay
In addition to your deposit, you’ll need money to pay for a valuation, house survey, conveyancing, stamp duty (England and Northern Ireland)/land transaction tax (Wales)/land and buildings transaction tax (Scotland), removal costs, buildings and contents insurance.
It’s a long list, which can add on several thousands of pounds to your overall house-buying bill. So, make sure you’re prepared beforehand – it might mean waiting and saving up for a few extra months before starting the process of buying your first home.
Find out more: the cost of buying a house
Options if you’re struggling to save
There are several government-backed schemes that are designed to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder.
- Help to Buy equity loans: you’ll need a deposit of just 5%, while the government lends you up to 20% in England and Wales (40% in London, 15% in Scotland), and then your mortgage just needs to cover the rest.
- Help to Buy Isa: the government pays a 25% bonus on top of your savings to go towards your first home. These close to new savers on 30 November 2019.
- Lifetime Isa: similarly, the government pays a 25% bonus on what you save, but only those aged between 18-39 can open one.
- Shared ownership: you can buy a 25%-75% share of a property, and pay rent on the rest.
Find out more: Help to Buy
What type of mortgage do you want?
Before choosing a lender, you should consider what type of mortgage is best-suited to your circumstances. There are three main types:
- Variable-rate mortgages: these include tracker mortgages, which follow the Bank of England base rate – for example, you might pay the base rate (currently 0.75%) plus 3% – and discount mortgages, which pay the lender’s standard variable rate (SVR), with a fixed discount. These mortgages can offer low rates, but they could change at any time.
- Fixed-rate mortgages: these guarantee the same interest rate for the introductory period of the deal, so you’ll always know how much your repayments will be each month. The most common deals offer two- and five-year fixed-rates. We recently found that first-time buyer fixed-rate mortgage rates have been crashing – particularly at 95% LTVs.
- Standard-variable-rate mortgages (SVRs): each lender has its own SVR, which it can set at any level and change at any time. SVR rates are generally much higher than variable-rate or fixed-rate deals, and lenders will often put you on their SVR if you don’t sign up for a new deal – it’s usually best to remortgage before that happens.
Find out more: mortgage types explained