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Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Barred from buying a home
The average cost of a house in the UK continues to climb upwards, defying talk of a property crash.

Every time you look, house prices go up. It's like hitting your head against a brick wall.

Marie Craigon
Prices in England and Wales are 10% higher than they were at this point last year, and the average property costs more than 120,000, according to the Land Registry's latest report.

The dizzying increases are making it ever harder for first-time buyers to break into the market.

BBC News Online spoke to four young people trying to get a foot on the property ladder.

Michelle Hedley, health and safety advisor

My salary is about 12,000 pa and I could borrow up to three and half times that.

But there is no point attempting to look for mortgages, because there is nothing in my price range.

Michelle Hedley
Lives: Cardiff
Age: 24
Occupation: Health & Safety advisor
Borrowing limit: about 42,000
I have no other option but to rent.

I have had my eye on the market for the last couple of years and would like to get a one-bedroom place in the centre of Cardiff where I live.

I definitely wouldn't get into a situation where I would borrow four or five times my salary. I think three times is my limit, especially as I am still paying off graduate debt.

Friends of mine have bought and rented a room to a tenant just to get on the ladder. But I wouldn't want to do that - I am very independent. I would only consider that option if nothing changes.

Some friends have also had help with deposits from parents, but unfortunately I don't have that kind of back-up.

I would be happy to live with a partner, but I don't want to do it just for that reason. I feel quite strongly about that.

It makes me very depressed. Unless I compromise the way I live - by renting out a room to a tenant - I will never get anywhere.

Sarah Wardle, P.A.

I live in the Leamington and Warwick area and it is now impossible for me to buy a house on my own on my current salary.

Sarah Wardle
Lives: Leamington / Warwick
Age: 21
Occupation: P.A.
Borrowing limit: 50,000 (150,000 with her boyfriend)
One year ago, I was about to buy a house, but then I was made redundant.

That house has now doubled in price, whereas my salary has only increased by a fraction.

I work as a P.A. and I earn a reasonable amount of money but it is not even enough to buy a smaller, poor-quality flat.

My boyfriend and I could buy a house together but taking on such a huge commitment as a shared mortgage when we are only one year into our relationship is a tall order.

I really want to make that first step onto the ladder, but the market is making it impossible, as I do not have the capital to buy a house.

The unfortunate thing for first-time buyers like me is that the house prices will probably begin to slow in their increase - but the values will never drop significantly unless there is a crash in the market.

So it is going to be a difficult decision for a long time to come yet.

Neal Church, internet project coordinator

I have been thinking about looking for a place since August last year.

I have been renting for a long time and I think there are better things that I could do with the money.

My mortgage adviser told me that I could borrow up to 105,000, but I would need more than that to buy a place that I want.

Neal Church
Lives: Reading
Age: 25
Occupation: Internet project coordinator
Borrowing limit: 105,000
I could buy somewhere with my girlfriend, but I am not prepared to do that yet.

I think I've decided to take the plunge by myself and will try to go for something worth more than 105,000.

But that would leave me quite worried about interest rates and the risk of losing my house if they went up.

I really regret not getting on the property ladder two or three years ago.

At the moment, it is not even worth me saving for a deposit. Every month I save much less than the amount by which property goes up.

I wish all these experts had had the foresight a few years ago to advise people to buy then.

Marie Craigon, research scientist

I rent a two-bedroom, modern flat with my husband in Oxford.

It would cost 150,000 and upwards to buy a two- to three-bedroom place in Oxford, but on our combined incomes the maximum we can borrow is 120,000.

Marie Craigon
Lives: Oxford
Age: 25
Occupation: Research scientist (husband is design technician)
Borrowing limit: 120,000 with her husband
There is no point buying a one-bedroom place because that would be smaller than where we rent now.

Our rent is 645 a month which is roughly the same as the repayments for a property costing 120,000.

We would need to save up for the deposit as well, which would be 3,600 - too expensive for us.

Every time you look, house prices go up. It's like hitting your head against a brick wall.

We are thinking about moving to Scotland. My husband's family comes from Glasgow and we could easily afford a four bedroom house there for 120,000.

I am afraid if we don't get on the ladder now, we won't ever be able to afford it.

See also:

09 May 02 | Business
House prices in renewed surge
09 May 02 | Business
UK interest rates kept on hold
03 May 02 | Business
UK house prices up again
01 May 02 | Business
Q&A: House prices rise again
30 Apr 02 | Business
Housing market sees 'record growth'
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