First-time buyers ‘leapfrogging smaller properties in favour of family homes’

Many first-time buyers are bypassing traditional starter homes and instead targeting family-sized houses, research suggests.

Zoopla said that, particularly outside London, those taking their first step on the property ladder are typically searching for homes with three bedrooms that will suit them for longer – and are “leapfrogging” one or two bedroom flats.

The most popular type of home first-time buyers inquire about on Zoopla’s portal are three-bedroom houses.

Two-thirds of first-time buyers are seeking houses and, stripping out London, this increases to 80% of inquiries, with properties averaging 2.9 bedrooms, the website said.

Those who are getting on the property ladder later in life may already have started their family – and moving costs such as stamp duty may mean they are looking for somewhere to stay put for the longer term.

The trend also means that aspiring first-time buyers face paying sums closer to the average house price in their area to secure their desired property type.

The average price of homes bought by first-time buyers outside London is now just 8% lower than their regional average, according to Zoopla research.

The gap has narrowed compared with the period between 1996 and 2007, when first-time buyers typically bought homes that were priced at 20% less than their regional average.

Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Zoopla, said: “First-time buyers are not compromising on size and price of home.

“Our analysis suggests that they are taking the long-term view and buying a home with a longer-term horizon than they may have done in the past.

“Three-bedroom homes remain the primary housing type in demand and this drops to two-bedroom homes in London where housing costs and affordability pressures are greatest.”

Here are the percentages of first-time buyers who have expressed an interest in three bedroom-plus properties via the Zoopla website in 2018 across the UK. Figures show percentages of first-time buyers in each region and nation who were interested in three bedroom properties, followed by those inquiring about four bedroom properties or larger, and the total percentages who asked about properties with at least three bedrooms:

– London, 26.2%, 9.2%, 35.4%
– Scotland, 33.3%, 11.9%, 45.2%
– South East, 42.7%, 15.5%, 58.2%
– South West, 44.1%, 15.8%, 59.9%
– East, 45.4%, 14.8%, 60.2%
– North East, 48.0%, 17.0%, 64.9%
– North West, 52.6%, 14.0%, 66.6%
– Yorkshire and the Humber, 53.5%, 15.7%, 69.2%
– East Midlands, 55.2%, 15.8%, 71.0%
– Wales, 55.9%, 17.2%, 73.1%
– West Midlands, 60.7%, 13.0%, 73.7%
– Northern Ireland, 52.1%, 25.2%, 77.3%