Toni Smith is sales and operations director at First Complete
While it is undoubtedly the case that fewer people in their 20s and 30s are buying compared to ten years ago, I think the reasons for this come down to more than just the fact that property house prices have risen or that mortgages are harder to come by. Many of the difficulties faced by generation Y are down to lifestyle choices; the level and type of expenditure that many people of that generation now think of as ‘essential’ which arguably in previous generations would have been shelved until after they had bought a house.
Many people quote the baby boomer generation as having it easy but buying a house for this generation usually required saving with your building society usually for at least two years before you could even have a conversation about a mortgage. During that time you usually needed to have paid in money to your savings account every month to prove that you were credit worthy and could make regular payments. When you did finally move into your house, it is also likely that it was uncarpeted, or if you did have enough money for carpets your table or sofa were likely to be borrowed or home made until you had saved up enough to buy ‘proper’ ones. Mention that to a Generation Y child and it is likely that they would look at you as if you were mad.
But many Generation Y children have got on the housing ladder. In fact the latest LSL First Time Buyer Opinion Barometer shows that the number of first time buyers in the first half of this year is stronger than it has been since 2007. While making a generalisation, many of these will be people who have been saving from teenage, who have had evening and weekend jobs and who are prepared to forgo some of the luxuries associated with ‘normal’ life today in order to get a mortgage and buy a house. At the same time there are record completions under the Help to Buy scheme. While there have been various housing schemes since the 80s, the current scheme is one of the most generous.
So while no-one is saying that it is easy to get on the housing ladder, especially for those who have also taken on student debts, much of it is down to lifestyle choice. There are houses that are available for under £100,000 in various parts of the country and there are subsidies available to help people buy them, but it usually does also involve a conscious change in lifestyle to save the deposit and to prove that you can afford the mortgage.