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Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Obstacles mount for home buyers
For sale montage
Are social changes affecting the way we buy houses?
The next generation of house buyers will be older, and more of them will be single, reports published this week have suggested.

Changing social norms, such as delayed marriage and increased divorce rates, mean the number of people buying alone has risen significantly, mortgage lender Halifax said.


Soaring house prices are set to tear apart the social fabric of family life

Egg
Yet, ironically, such social changes may be being fuelled by the buoyant market housing, a separate report found.

Internet bank Egg said that first-time buyers were being forced to delay marriage and parenthood because of the jump in house prices and deposits.

Egg found that first properties were now less affordable than at any other time in the last 25 years, and that the outlook for buyers was getting worse.

A more expensive ladder

According to a Egg, the average deposit for first time buyers has quadrupled since 1996 and is rising by almost 7% a year.

The result is more young people living at home for longer - delaying marriage, parenthood and pensions.

The average first time buyer in 2001 was 34 years old.

But by 2011 the average is set to hit 36, warned Egg, urging saving from an early age.

Home alone

But it is not just the cost of houses that is changing the way we live.

A Halifax survey found that people are increasingly buying properties alone because of the later onset of marriage and longer term responsibilities such as children.

Single lady looking at houses
More women are buying alone

At the same time, divorce is on the increase, and people are living longer.

Halifax said 40% of Britons bought alone in 2001, compared with one quarter in 1983.

"It is imperative that planners and builders take account of this when deciding what types of properties to build and where to build them," said the mortgage lender.

Women go solo

Women are increasingly leading the way when it comes to buying alone.

The proportion of single women buying their own home has risen from 8% to 15% in the past two decades.

The changing housing market has sparked some alarm.

Egg said the rising cost of becoming a home owner could "tear apart the social fabric of family life, as many Britons plan to delay marriage and parenthood".


Are you a first-time buyer? Did you have to change your plans for jobs, marriage and children because of the tough housing market? Tell us your experiences.

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The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones
"We're changing the housing market and it's changing us"
See also:

21 Aug 02 | Business
21 Aug 02 | Business
19 Aug 02 | Business
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06 Aug 02 | The Money Programme
14 Feb 01 | Entertainment
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