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What Hope For The First Time Home Buyer?
By Richard Cohn
First time buyers across the globe are feeling the pinch as property prices continue to rise. From America to Australia and Spain to China the total value of residential property in the developed economies has risen by over £15 trillion in the last 6 years. Fabulous for anyone who already owns their own as they are now happily sitting on a little goldmine, but for those who were too young, too cautious or who simply did not have the required deposit the picture does not look so rosy.
Buying a for a first time buyer is now out of reach for all but those on the highest salaries. Unable to buy, the would be owner’s only alternatives are to stay in the parental home, or move into a rental property. Many choose the rental route, but of course this only goes to fuel the buy-to-let market encouraging those looking to buy investment property. The more homes that are bought as investment property, the fewer are available for sale to first time buyers and through the wonders of demand and supply theory, property prices are pushed higher again and further out of reach.
For years some first time buyers have held back waiting for the property ‘bubble’ to burst. This being the favourite phrase of the post-millennium property expert. In the UK they were convinced it would burst in 2003, they were so sure it would pop in 2004, and if it didn’t explode in 2005 they would eat their hats! Well, many had to eat their own words as well as their headgear in 2006 as they had to admit that maybe they had got this whole bubble thing wrong all along as new theories emerged as to the way people
buying homes bought, and the market reacted. No crash in the foreseeable future now say those same experts, just the possibility of a slight slowdown in the relentless tide of rises.
Other first timers have been waiting for their salaries to improve before buying, but they too have been disappointed as property prices have risen far faster than wages, and instead of being closer to their dream home, years on they find themselves still first time buyers in waiting as many are now worse off than they were before.
It is important to note that this is not a problem limited to a few unfortunates who did not jump onto the property ladder when they could or should have. This has reached political and social issue status in the UK. The statistical average number of first time buyers here is around 40% of the total buying public. It is therefore rather worrying to see that in each of the last three years this has fallen into the high 20%’s equating to around 100,000 less first time buyers each year than there should have been. Numbers that bring a tear of joy to the eye of any rental property owners, but for the first time buyer things have not looked too good.
It’s not all bad news though there is a glimmer of hope for the beleaguered masses. In the 2006 budget, the UK Government promised £970m to help key workers into their first homes, a number of organisations are launching schemes to offer private shared ownership where they fund a percentage of the property for a rental income, and of course there is the blossoming co-buyer market, something we know quite a bit about as we launched the co-buyer network 10 months ago. Co-buying offers the thousands of potential first time buyers an opportunity to join forces to help one another onto the property ladder. Through doing this they multiply their buying power, divide all their costs and can afford to own what they want, where they want to live years sooner than they could possibly have done so on their own. There are many innovative options that are launching to help the first time buyer, and we are hoping to bring as many as possible to you.
Richard Cohn is the Founding Director of SharedSpaces.co.uk, the UK"s co-buyer network website. "I have always had a passion for property, from my education as a Surveyor to employment as a property consultant and the launch of SharedSpaces.co.uk to help anyone who could benefit from joining forces with someone else to realise their property dreams." Why not join the thousands already registered looking for someone to co-buy, co-invest or co-rent with.
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