First time buyers face extinction

PEOPLE taking their first step on the housing ladder in East Anglia make up just 2% of the first-time buyer market across the country, a survey has shown.

PEOPLE taking their first step on the housing ladder in East Anglia make up just 2% of the first-time buyer market across the country, a survey has shown.

The figures from Sainsbury's Bank, will make gloomy reading for those in the region waiting to buy their first house, who already have to contend with rocketing prices.

As the number of million pound properties in the county reaches an all-time high, the dream of owning your own house will seem even further away than ever for most.

The survey showed that buyers are forced to borrow an average of £1,552 from family and friends to make their first purchase, while the average age of a first-time buyer has soared to 36.

With 16% of the total UK market, the South East of England boasts the largest proportion of first-time buyers in the country over the past two years.

Dr Wil Gibson, chief executive of Suffolk ACRE, said he was surprised by the low figure in East Anglia, but accepted there is an issue in the region.

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He added: "I think there is a problem for first-time buyers in Suffolk. I've spoken to a lot of people and they are saying that it's really hard to get on the housing ladder because of the way salary levels are at the moment.

"There's a shortage of what we call social housing - we are not meeting the demand that's out there.

"We have a general low wage economy in Suffolk and I think the current provision of affordable housing is creating a restricted market - lots of people going after few houses - which is the fundamental issue.

"We need what used to be council houses again. Without that we have an under provision of affordable housing.

"People just can't afford what's on the market, or there is such limitations on the number of homes that the price goes up and up."

Another blow for potential first-time buyers came from the Council of Mortgage Lenders which predicted that interest rates could rise to 5.25% by the end of the year.

While such a rise may slow house prices, it would also serve to make mortgages more costly for those borrowing cash to buy property.

Colin Girling, from the Suffolk branch of the National Association of Estate Agents, said a interest rate rise would not help first-time buyers.

He added: "I sure it's approaching a bit of a crisis for first-time buyers in Suffolk. We get people coming in and asking what we've got for £100,000 - and the answer is nothing.

"Because there is this shortage of affordable housing, the bottom end of the market of the market is not moving - there is nothing for people to progress to.

"Traditionally people in a two-bed terrace first home would move to a three-bed semi but now they don't go on the market.

"It's a strange situation, and I don't see any answer to it at the moment."

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