Home Ownership: the generation game

At a time when younger people are finding it harder than ever to buy their first home, it’s not exactly a surprise to find out that many of them are relying on family support to make buying a property a reality.

Experian research has found that over a quarter (27%) of Britons aged 55+ have provided support to their children or others to help them buy their own property – regardless of how financially comfortable they are, and a significant proportion (15%) of those people say they are ‘not at all’ financially comfortable.

It’s a far cry from how things once were. 60% of 55s and over who have ever owned their own home paid £20,000 (that figure, in 1986, would be around £54,000 in today’s money) or less for their first home, compared to recent figures showing the UK average cost of smaller homes today as £182,926[1].

41% of them would have paid a deposit of £1,000 or less for their first home, if they paid one at all – in fact, one in ten of 55s and over paid for the first home without even needing a deposit.

And the differences look even starker when you compare how few young people own their own home compared to their elders.

Almost half (44%) of Britons aged 55 and over who have owned their own home bought their first home between the ages of 20 and 25, while less than one in 10 (8%) 18-24-year-olds currently own a property and more than a quarter (26%) live rent-free with family or friends.

Figures from the Mortgage Advice Bureau show that the average age of a first-time buyer is now 37, which would make a standard 25-year mortgage take them to 62. But this figure could well increase in the near future, as high house prices up and down the country take first-time buyer ages well past 40.

Some older people could even be stretching themselves to help their children get on the property ladder, which could affect their own finances in retirement.

The research also found that 30% of over-55s say they’re not financially comfortable – they have relatively low levels of savings and low disposable income.

Of that 30%, a third (33%) rent rather than own their own homes, while 22% won’t have paid off their current mortgage until their 70s or later. 36% say they don’t have any disposable income – a figure that’s 15% of all over-55s surveyed, and 32% have less than £100 in savings.

So it’s worth remembering that while supporting your children’s need to buy a property can be a wonderful thing to do, it’s important not to forget the impact it could have on your own financial well-being later in life.


[1] Rightmove 2016

Research methodology: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Two consumer research studies were commissioned in April 2016.
Total sample size was 1051 adults aged 55+. Fieldwork was undertaken 4th – 7th April 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 55+).

Total sample size was 2029 adults, of which 772 were aged 55+. Fieldwork was undertaken 1st – 4th April 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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