People in Scotland are buying their first property at a younger age than in other parts of the UK with an average age of 28, according to new research.
Scotland’s youngest house buyers are in Midlothian where they get on the housing ladder at the age of 27, the research from the Bank of Scotland shows.
Unlike in England and Wales where there is almost a decade’s difference between the youngest and oldest first-time buyers, in Scotland there is relatively little variation across the country in the average age of first time buyers, with the oldest at 30 years old.
The average for Scotland as a whole is 28; one year below the UK average. Some of the youngest buyers are in areas such as Clackmannanshire, Fife, North Lanarkshire, Falkirk, West Lothian and East Dunbartonshire, all with an average age of 28.
Average house prices tend to be relatively low in areas with the youngest first time buyers. For example, over half of the ten areas with the youngest first time buyers have an average house price of 13% to 25% below the Scotland average. These include North Ayrshire, 25%, North Lanarkshire, 20%, Clackmannanshire, 16%, and Fife, 15%.
Typically, the areas with the youngest first time buyers are also areas where housing affordability conditions are the most favourable. Nine of the ten local areas with the youngest buyers have an average house price to average earnings ratio for first time buyers below 4.
These include North Ayrshire with a price to earnings ratio of 2.8, followed by North Lanarkshire at 3, Fife also at 3 and Falkirk at 3.1. With an average house price of Ł118,725, Midlothian has a price to average earnings ratio of 4.
In the ten areas with the oldest first time buyers, six are areas where the average first time buyer price is above the Scotland average of Ł105,401. These are Edinburgh at 37%, Moray at 7%, Highland at 12%, Aberdeenshire at 28%, East Lothian at 47% and East Renfrewshire at 28%.
The average age of a first time buyer has remained remarkably stable over time. In 1983, when Bank of Scotland records began, it was 29, just a year older than today.
An increasing number of first time buyers however, now require financial assistance to raise funds for a deposit. The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimate that 84% of first time buyers under 30 had help with their deposit in 2010, compared with only 38% in 2005. The typical age of those first time buyers who did not receive assistance has increased significantly from 28 to 31 over the same period.
‘The variation in age between the youngest and oldest first buyers in Scotland is relatively low, just three years compared to almost a decade seen in England and Wales,’ said Nitesh Patel, housing economist at Bank of Scotland.
‘In many cases this is due to house prices being typically lower both in absolute terms and in relation to earnings, helping to limit the size of the deposit needed and the time needed to build one up,’ Patel added.