Seven in 10 first-time buyers delay their first step on the homeownership ladder, according to new research.
Of those looking to buy their first home in the next 12 to 24 months, 70% have decided to delay the process, the Nationwide Building Society survey reveals.
This is largely due to their ability to save for a down payment, which is being hit by the cost of living crisis which has seen food, fuel and energy prices soar.
Those looking to buy their first home in the next five years said saving for a deposit is the biggest hurdle to getting on the property ladder
First-time buyers were then asked separately about the expected length of the delay and the average was around two years.
In total, 57% indicated a delay of up to two years and 77%, up to three years.
And almost one in five – at 19% – said they were taking a break from their aspirations to become a homeowner for more than three years.
There are regional variations with 23% in the South West saying the delay would be more than three years, and this was the case for 28% in Wales.
The survey of 2,051 people looking to buy their first home in the next five years found that saving for a deposit is the biggest barrier to getting on the property ladder.
A total of 28% said this was the hardest part of homeownership to overcome.
A 10% down payment on a typical home for a first-time buyer is almost 60% of gross annual income – a record, according to Nationwide.
By contrast, only 14% say it’s the ability to borrow enough, while 12% say meeting mortgage payments would be the biggest challenge.
First-time buyers said they delay buying a property for up to 24 months – with some saying they will now have to wait longer
In total, nearly nine out of ten people have seen their ability to save for a deposit affected due to the rising cost of living.
It rises to 93% for Scotland, 98% for Wales and 98% for Northern Ireland. Even Britain’s lowest region – in Greater London – registers 82%.
This led to 48% reducing the amount they save for a deposit, with 38% using money already allocated as a deposit to pay other bills.
How first-time buyers cut costs
Nationwide also revealed the ways potential first-time home buyers are cutting costs in trying to secure their first home.
• 47% reduction in daily expenses
• 43% reduce going out or dining out
• 37% reduce household bills by shopping
• 36% sell things they own
• 35% cancel unused subscriptions
• 23% savings on a homebuyer rewards account (eg Lifetime ISA, Help to Buy ISA)
• 21% earning cash back on card spend
• 20% using a savings or budgeting app
• 17% taking an additional job
• 12% delay starting or expanding a family
The survey also asked if 2022 is a good time to buy their first home, and responses were split, with 51% disagreeing and 49% agreeing.
One of the main problems for people buying a house in the area where they live is the high price of houses. This was the case for 57%, while 43% said rents were too high to save.
Almost a quarter said their area had a competitive housing market, while the same number said there was a lack of housing on the market.
The current pressure on finances is prompting people to consider moving to other areas, with 69% willing to move elsewhere to get more bang for their buck, and 65% willing to do so for a larger property.
It is highest for those living in Greater London at 79%, as prices are higher than in any other area of Britain.
The survey found that the average age buyers hope to be when they move up the property ladder is 27.
However, three in 10 said they were unlikely to be able to buy a home at the age they were hoping for, while a third admitted they were already past that age.
The struggle to get on the homeownership ladder is also pushing people to think about buying with someone else to make that first home purchase a reality.