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First time buyers have it easy if they have wealthy parents, says report

Young people whose parents have property wealth are now almost three times as likely to be homeowners by the age of 30 than their peers from families without property wealth. 

That’s the claim from the Resolution Foundation, a think tank.

Its latest report finds that in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, home ownership rates for 30 year olds with parental property wealth were – at 40 per cent – twice that of young people whose parent did not own a home.


This gap has since grown so that recent home ownership rates for 30 year olds with parental property wealth are – at 25 per cent – almost three times that of those without parental property wealth.

The reports notes that measuring the direct effect of parental property wealth on their children’s home ownership is difficult because the Bank of Mum and Dad actually pays out in other ways when it comes to children’s living standards. 

As well as greater home ownership, young people with high levels of parental wealth are 74 per cent more likely to have a degree than those without parental wealth, and typically earn over £500 more per month. 

However the report shows that, even after accounting for these education and pay benefits, access to the Bank of Mum and Dad is independently driving up young people’s home ownership. 

It claims that parental wealth has now become such a significant driver of young people’s home ownership prospects that it is catching up in importance to more obvious drivers, such as how much young people earn.

The foundation says that while it is natural for parents to want to help their children on to the housing ladder, it is not be the answer for all would be first time buyers, not least because half of millennials who do not own their own home do not have home-owning parents.

It adds that having a society where young people’s housing aspirations are so dependent on what their parents own is undesirable, and emphasises the need for politicians that say they want a socially mobile country to focus on wealth not just income.

While building more homes will help, the report notes that policy makers will need to be more radical if they want to see real change, with high house prices also being driven by long term declines in interest rates that are unlikely to be reversed anytime soon.

“High house prices and sluggish wage growth have meant that being able to buy a home of their own is almost impossible for many young people without access to the Bank of Mum and Dad” according to Stephen Clarke, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation.

“In fact, our housing crisis is so big that what your parents own is becoming as important as how much you earn when it comes to owning your own home. This is particularly worrying for the one in two millennials who aren’t homeowners, and whose parents also aren’t either.

“These findings reinforce the need to think more broadly about what the barriers to social mobility are in 21st century Britain. We’ve always known that who your parents are affects what education you get and job you do. But increasingly the effect is continuing later into life by determining whether you are able to own a home of your own.”


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