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Big majority of first time buyer mortgages now over 25 years

Some 70 per cent of first time buyers in 2020 took out mortgages in excess of 25 years, says the Nationwide.

A decade ago, the proportion of first timers doing this was just 45 per cent.

Nationwide calculates that increasing a mortgage term from 25 to 35 years can boost the total amount of interest paid on a typical mortgage by 40 per cent - making longer term mortgages generally far more expensive that shorter term alternatives. 


The report highlights that higher house prices in relation to earnings makes raising a deposit a significant barrier for first-time buyers. 

In 2018/19, around four out of every 10 first-time buyers had some help raising a deposit, typically through a gift or loan from family or a friend or through inheritance. 

And the Nationwide says that across the UK a 20 per cent home deposit now equates to an average 104 per cent of the pre-tax income of a typical full-time employee, up from 87 per cent 10 years ago.

Andrew Harvey, senior economist at Nationwide, says: “The good news is that for those that are able to raise a deposit, the cost of the typical monthly mortgage payment relative to take-home pay has been trending down in recent years.”

He continues: “At the end of 2020, the UK first-time buyer house price-to-earnings ratio stood at 5.2, close to 2007’s record high of 5.4, and well above the long-run average of 3.7. [But] we have also seen a significant widening in the gap between the least affordable and most affordable regions.

“London has been the least affordable region for most of the past 40 years – the house price-to-earnings ratio in the capital reached a record high in 2016 of 10.2 and remained elevated at 9.2 at the end of 2020.

“Scotland currently has the lowest house price-to-earnings ratio at 3.2, closely followed by the North at 3.3.”

The Nationwide adds that housing affordability is a big problem for employees in construction and manufacturing, as well as for cleaners, couriers, and those in care, leisure and other personal service jobs. Within these groups, typical mortgage payments would represent more than 40 per cent of average take-home pay, the report says.


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