First time buyers ‘willing to sacrifice space’ to get a home

First time buyers ‘willing to sacrifice space’ to get a home

First time buyers are increasingly willing to forgo options like space for a bath, a spare bedroom and even natural light in order to get a foot on the housing ladder, according to the latest ‘First Time Buyer Opinion Barometer’ from Your Move and Reeds Rains.

When asked about the requirements that they consider to be ‘vital’ in a first home, only 49% of first-timers cited natural light as essential. Just 51% said a spare bedroom was mandatory, and 55% a car parking space. Only 37% said space for a bath was a necessity.

With the average price of a first-time buyer home now £143,767 as of February, first-timers are more willing to sacrifice spaces including garages, dining rooms and utility rooms in order to save on costs.

Just 7% of first-time buyers said an ensuite bathroom was an essential requirement to a first-home; while 14% said a garage was mandatory, and just a third (30%) viewed having a dining room as vital. Suprisingly 11% of first-time buyers said a kitchen wasn’t vital in a new home.

Percentage of first time buyers who view the following as vital to their new home
(Your Move & Reeds Rains ‘First Time Buyer Opinion Barometer’, 2015)

Kitchen 89%
Living room 79%
Space for a Double Bed 67%
Car Parking space 55%
Garden 54%
Spare bedroom 51%
Natural Light 49%
Space for a bath 37%
Dining Room 30%


Warning signs

Adrian Gill, director of estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains, comments: “First-time buyers are willing to sacrifice space and comfort in their quest to buy a first home. But this shouldn’t be such an arduous task – these findings should send a warning flare out to our politicians that many first-timers are tripping up along the path to homeownership, despite much improved access to finance.

“The lion’s share of new housing policy has been stoking demand, rather than supplementing supply, with the Help to Buy ISA the latest in a host of flagship first-timer policies. But building initiatives remain largely untouched, leaving enormous potential to revise and improve housing policy.

“Of course, there is a flipside. Such strong buyer demand means now is a fantastic time for sellers to put property on the market, with affordable properties likely to be snapped up quickly.”


Encourage more housebuilding

In their bi-monthly survey, Your Move and Reeds Rains asked first-time buyers what policies they would accept to encourage more housebuilding. Four in ten first-timers (41%) would accept legislation to prevent land banking – when developers buy a plot of land for development but don’t build on it straight away. And over a third (37%) think it should be easier to convert existing buildings to residential use.

One in seven (14%) first-timers believe more pre-fabricated ‘kit’ houses should be used to build new houses rapidly, while 11% would accept converting high streets to residential property, and a tenth (10%) would happily build over golf courses. A twelfth (8%) of first-timers say that the greenbelt boundaries should be adjusted, 8% believe building height restrictions in city centres should be removed, and 8% think the size of new-builds should be limited, in order to build more smaller homes on the same available plots.

Adrian Gill, director of estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains, explains: “The housing crisis cannot be conquered by timid tweaking of the system – radical action is required.

“Recalibrating the way we use land will form firm foundations for more affordable housing. Potential policy changes could include legislation against land banking and in doing so making it easier for landowners to build on their land banks by easing planning restrictions. Building on green spaces in urban centres is another option, and – at the more controversial end of the spectrum – adapting the green belt boundaries. Supporting smaller builders will also play a part, to encourage more quality first-timer homes, in the locations that we need them.”

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