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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 January 2006, 15:57 GMT
First-time buyers 'at record low'
A couple look in an estate agent window
The average person now needs a deposit of almost 24,000
The number of first-time home buyers across the UK is at a 25-year low, according to research.

The average person has to spend five years saving for a deposit, says the study from Britain's biggest mortgage lender the Halifax.

It says about 320,000 people got on the property ladder last year - 10% fewer than in 2004, and down 40% on 2002.

The average person now needs a deposit of almost 24,000 and is aged 33 when they buy their first home.

Saving burden

The report said that in 2005, the number of first-time buyers had fallen to its lowest level since 1980, although there were signs of a slight pick up during the second half of the year.

The average person must now save a deposit of 23,967 - more than double the 9,894 they needed five years ago, it added.

It now takes an average of five years to save this, up from the three years it took to build a deposit in 2000.

Many first-time buyers are priced out of the market in the UK. The report suggested they were unable to buy a semi-detached property in 87% of towns, compared with 41% in 2002.

Terraced properties were also out of their reach in half of all towns, up from just over a quarter only three years ago.

The most expensive places to buy were London and the South East - accounting for nine out of 10 areas on the least affordable list.

Highs and lows

Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire was the most expensive, with the average property there costing almost 18 times the average income of a first-time buyer.

Other expensive areas were Weybridge in Surrey and Kensington and Chelsea in London.

In northern Britain, things improved for first-time buyers, with houses in Nelson in Lancashire proving most affordable, despite being almost 3.3 times the average first-time buyer's salary.

Lochgelly in Scotland and Gosport in Hampshire were the second and third easiest places for people to get on to the property ladder.

Halifax says Scotland and the north of England are the only regions where people typically spend less than 100,000 on their first home - across the UK the average is 137,122.

The survey indicated people in London spent the most on their first home - an average of 222,005 - followed by those in the South East, who spent an average of 163,253.

In 2000 first-time buyers spent less than 100,000 on their first property in all regions of the UK except London.

Are you struggling to get on the property ladder? Have you just managed to buy your first home? Should property be made more affordable? Or are you happy to rent? Send us your views and experiences.


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