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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK
Country life key for homebuyers
A woman and child in a wood
For many Britons living near green open space is a priority
Homebuyers value being near green open space more than living close to shops or other amenities, a survey from Halifax Estate Agents suggests.

More than one in four homebuyers chose proximity to the countryside as the most important factor when choosing where to live.

Fewer than one in five said that being near shops, a good school or transport links was the key deciding factor.

But among the under-35s, proximity to work was the most important factor.

Most important amenities for homebuyers
Close to countryside 28%
Close to shops, bars and restaurants 18%
Proximity to work 17%
Near good transport links 15%
Close to a good school 13%
Source: Halifax Estate Agents

"Although other factors such as budget, property specification and availability play an important part, most people begin their search for a home by looking at geographic location first," said Colin Kemp, managing director of Halifax estate agents.

"Once they've decided on an area in which they want to live, other factors then come into play."

Unrealistic expectations

At the same time a separate survey from Alliance & Leicester bank indicated that aspiring first-time homebuyers are underestimating how much they need to spend to clamber onto the property ladder.

In total 2,000 aspiring first-time buyers were surveyed, on average respondents said that they thought they would have to pay 120,000 to buy their first home.

However, Alliance & Leicester said that this figure was 29,000 short of the average cost of buying a first home.

The group warned that people's unrealistic expectations are making competition to get on to the property ladder more intense.

Currently there are two buyers for every one home worth less than 120,000.

But despite people underestimating the cost of property, 28% of people still said they could not afford to get on to the housing ladder, rising to 41% among people in their 30s.

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