Home-buying hopes scuppered for fifth of UK adults in 2020 – survey

A fifth of people are frustrated would-be home-movers, saying their plans to buy a home were thwarted last year, a survey has found.

Some 20% of people surveyed for Aviva said they had plans to buy a home at the start of 2020 but they then had to be put on hold. Among 25- to 34-year-olds the figure was 39%.

Some believe it could take years before they are in a position to buy a home again.

Worries about job security, someone in the household having been furloughed or lost their job, and house sales falling through were the top reasons people’s plans were scuppered, Aviva’s How We Live study of more than 6,000 people found.

Abandoned home-buying plans were most common among aspiring first-time buyers. Seven in 10 (69%) first-home hopefuls said they needed to rethink their property-buying plans during 2020.

By contrast, 4% of people had not been planning to buy a home at the start of 2020 but ended up doing so.

Reasons for unexpected house moves included needing to find a more affordable property after financial changes, finding a property which was more suitable for home-working, changing jobs, a relationship breakdown, and taking advantage of the temporary stamp duty holiday.

People in London and the East of England were particularly likely to have made an unexpected move, perhaps due to the relatively big stamp duty savings to be made in these areas, while those in the North East of England were the least likely, according to the research.

The vast majority (94%) of people who paused their home-buying plans still intend to purchase a property in future.

They are also prepared to wait, anticipating that their purchase will be delayed by around 16 months on average.

But 9% of frustrated buyers said it may take them at least three years to be in a position to buy again, while 3% said it could take at least five years.

Gareth Hemming, managing director, personal lines, Aviva said: “The stamp duty break has brought welcome opportunities to people who were in a position to make a property purchase and there’s been much talk of the booming housing market.

“However, there’s also a hidden story of people who were hoping to move in 2020 but had to put their plans on hold because of the many uncertainties.

“The How We Live study suggests there are far more people in this camp than those who have been able to benefit from the stamp duty holiday.

“It remains to be seen how this will play out in the longer term, but we can hope that progress will be made in 2021, bringing new hopes for those who have found themselves in limbo this year.”

Aviva’s research also found that, while many people have looked to move to the countryside during the coronavirus pandemic, the grass is not always greener.

More than half of those currently living in rural (52%) and semi-rural (53%) locations fancy a change of scene, compared with 39% of people living in urban areas and the suburbs.

Some countryside dwellers would like to move to places with more facilities.

Nearly a third (31%) of those currently living in a rural area want to move to a semi-rural setting, while a similar proportion (30%) in semi-rural properties hope to relocate to a suburban location, Aviva found.

People are more likely to believe rural and semi-rural locations will provide a better quality of life and health benefits, while urban locations are more likely to be on wishlists due to perceptions about social life, facilities and transport links being better, according to the survey.

Mr Hemming continued: “As more people and businesses have adapted to home-working, this might suggest that people may want to move out of city locations.

“But the full picture is much more complicated and many people are hoping to move around for a wide variety of reasons, with some planning to move into more urban spaces.

“As people move around, it’s important that they review their home insurance to make sure it covers their new circumstances.”