Are young people being priced out of the housing market?

24 July 2014

"Young priced out of a home: How just 3% of house buyers last month were aged 18-30"

Daily Mail, 21 July 2014

Labour this week accused the government of failing to help young people get on the housing ladder, as new figures suggested that just 3% of people buying homes in June were under 30.

The claim comes from the National Association of Estate Agents' (NAEA) June Housing Market Report, which said that:

"The average number of first time buyers also significantly decreased in June, down from 25% of total sales in May to 20%, a decrease of 5 percentage points. This was reflected in the number of young buyers, with just 3% of buyers aged 18-30 recorded, compared with 48% of buyers aged 31 to 40, highlighting that younger buyers are still struggling to get on to the housing ladder."

However as one reader pointed out to Full Fact, other data, such as that from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), shows a very different picture. It reported that in May this year, 46% of buyers applying for a mortgage were first-time buyers, and of those, over half were under 30.

Of course, more than most areas, different measures of the housing market can show very different things, particularly if one month's movements are looked at in isolation.

Part of the reason for the difference in the NAEA and CML figures will owe to the methodology: whereas the NAEA gathers data on agreed sales from the estate agents that are members of the association, the CML uses lending data for transactions involving a mortgage. Neither will give a complete picture of the entire housing market.

We contacted the NAEA to ask for more details about their methodology and why it might have produced such different figures to the CML, and we'll update when we hear back.

The official figures available on the subject suggest that the typical home-buyer might not be quite as long in the tooth as the Mail headline suggests.

The Office for National Statistics' House Price Index recorded that last year, 6.2% of home-buyers were under 25, with a further 40.4% aged between 25 and 34. The average age of a buyer was 37, down from 39 in 2010.


Data is only available to 2013, so can't give us a measure of how the age of buyers may have changed since, and like the CML, uses mortgage applications as a proxy for house purchases.

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