Risk vs reward: How far are first time buyers willing to go to get on the property ladder?

POSTED: 13th August 2018
IN: Newsroom
  • First time buyers are sacrificing health, relationships and careers to reach the first rung of the housing ladder
  • Almost half (47%) of recent first time buyers have had to rebuild their lives due to the compromises made to buy a home
  • However, over seven in 10 (72%) believed the stress had been worth it and over eight in 10 (84%) found the experience empowering
  • Anxiety UK provides advice for first time buyers on how to manage this stressful experience

Risking more than ever

According to the latest First Time Buyer Index research1 from specialist bank, Aldermore, first time homeowners are feeling increasingly stressed with more strain on their personal relationships going through the home buying process than 12 months ago. Almost half (47%) said they had to rebuild their lives due to the compromises made, compared to four in 10 (40%) in 20172. Due to the complexity of house buying, over half (52%) were made ill by the stresses of the process; a significant increase from 2017 of just over a third (35%).

With almost half (48%) of first time buyers having a property fall through, it is understandable that the stress of buying a first home is also impacting relationships. In 2017, just over a third (34%) of recent first time buyers cited that the buying process caused issues in their relationships, and this has increased to over four in 10 (46%) in 2018. The lengths recent first time buyers go to own a home does not stop there. Over four in 10 (43%) recent first time buyers gave up being self-employed due to the difficulties of securing a mortgage. This compares to under a third in 2017 (32%).

Damian Thompson, Director of Mortgages, Aldermore said: “With the average first time homeowner taking almost six years to get on the property ladder, it is understandable that they will face challenges and hurdles along the way. However, it is concerning how negatively the house buying process is impacting health, personal relationships and careers. First time buyers experience huge amounts of pressure when looking for their first home, and our latest research shows that this has significantly increased over the past 12 months; this can be assigned to the fact that buying a first home feels more out of reach than ever before.”

Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of Anxiety UK, said: “Moving house can be a stressful event for anyone and frequently represents a time of transition and change. For first time buyers, typically young people, this big life event can come at a time when people are already coping with other life stressors including maintaining employment, building relationships and starting a family. As such, I am not at all surprised to hear that their wellbeing has been found to be adversely affected through the buying process, particularly with the rise in house prices. This has been somewhat reflective of the increased rates of anxiety, stress and anxiety-based depression that we are seeing in all areas of society, and indeed here at Anxiety UK.”

Light at the end of the tunnel

Despite the sacrifices first time buyers have to make, there is light at the end of the tunnel once they have the keys to their new home. Over seven in 10 (72%) believe the stress was worth it in the end, compared to just over a half (53%) in 2017. In addition, over eight in 10 (84%) found the experience empowering (69% in 2017).

Although concerns were raised about the impact the house buying process was having on personal relationships, over seven in 10 (72%) believe buying a home with their partner has actually brought them closer together. This is a significant increase from over a half (55%) in 2017.

Damian Thompson added: “Becoming a homeowner can be a very satisfying and rewarding experience. It is reassuring to see so many first time buyers express a sense of empowerment that has made navigating the pitfalls of the house buying process worth it.

“At Aldermore we recognise that each prospective first time buyer’s circumstances are different, so we offer a range of product options and personal service to provide the best opportunity for them to find their dream home.”

Nicky Lidbetter concluded: “Buying your first house is part of life and something we all have to learn to cope with.  Getting through successfully and with relatively little stress is much more likely if you take care of your mental wellbeing - the good news is that this doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money!

“The five ways to wellbeing, an evidence based approach, recommends connecting, being active, taking notice of your environment and learning (this doesn’t necessarily mean going back into education). These simple and often cost-neutral steps have been proven to bring about positive mental wellbeing.  For those with higher levels of stress and who may be at the point of developing an anxiety disorder, we recommend seeking help.  Your GP is well-placed to provide advice and information; Anxiety UK too offers a range of accessible support services, including a national network of trained anxiety experts, developed to fit around people’s modern, busy schedules.”


1The figures from 2018 are sourced from a nationally representative survey conducted by Opinium Research with a sample of 1,501 prospective first time buyers and 502 actual first time buyers. The sample was restricted to GB adults who were students or in work.

2 The comparison figures from 2017 are sourced from a nationally representative survey conducted by Opinium Research with a sample of 1,505 prospective first time buyers and 505 actual first time buyers between 27 July and 3 August 2017.  The sample was restricted to GB adults who were students or in work.

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