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Is it really harder for young people to buy a home than it was 30 years ago?

8 May 2018

3:17 PM

8 May 2018

3:17 PM

The Resolution Foundation has called for 25-year-olds to be paid £10,000 to help them afford homes, saying the ‘generational contract’ between young and old has broken down. But is it really harder for young people to buy a home now than it was 30 years ago?

House prices were booming in the first half of 1988, when a typical first-time buyer home could cost £50,000. That same property now, according to the Halifax UK House Price Index, would cost £234,850. Since 1988, the Retail Prices Index has increased 2.7 times, according to the ONS, so, in real terms, £50,000 in 1988 is now worth £135,000 – making it harder to afford a deposit.

As regards mortgage repayments, a typical rate in 1988 was ten per cent (two per cent above the Bank of England base rate). Fixed rate mortgages were not generally available. So, the annual repayments on a £50,000 mortgage would have cost £5,000 – or £13,500 in today’s money.

Today, it is possible to obtain a two year fixed-rate mortgage at 1.5 per cent, reverting to a variable rate of four per cent after two years. Annual repayments on a £234,850 mortgage are, respectively, £3522 and £9394.

In other words, it is harder for 25 year olds to save up a deposit and persuade a bank to advance them a mortgage, but if they can get over that hurdle they will find the mortgage repayments much cheaper than their parents did.

Moreover, they can now defend themselves against soaring mortgage rates – something which their parents were unable to do. While today’s 25-year-olds won’t remember it, the 1980s property boom went on to collapse in spectacular fashion, dumping millions in negative equity and leading many to lose their homes. It was certainly no enviable time to be buying a home.


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