New age for first-time home buyers

13.4.05'ESPC Property Centre, Edinburgh.'House buyers searching through the porfolio of property on offer at the ESPC'Pic Neil Hanna'property
13.4.05'ESPC Property Centre, Edinburgh.'House buyers searching through the porfolio of property on offer at the ESPC'Pic Neil Hanna'property
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the youngest first-time buyers in Scotland live in Midlothian, a new study has revealed.

The average age of those picking up their own keys for the first time in Midlothian is 27, compared to a Scottish average of 28.

The average price first-time buyers in Midlothian pay for their home is £118,725.

The figures from the Bank of Scotland, which relate to June 2011, show that the average age for first-time buyers in Edinburgh is 29, with their purchases averaging £144,301.

East Lothian is among those with the highest average age, at 30 years old, with buyers snapping up properties with an average price of £155,250. For West Lothian the age was 28, with an average price of £108,477.

David Marshall, business analyst for the Edinburgh Solicitors’ Property Centre, said the average age for first-time buyers generally reflected the cost of housing in each area, particularly at the bottom of the market.

He said: “Midlothian and West Lothian are both in the top ten and those are the two areas of Edinburgh and the Lothians that have by far the most affordable properties.

“Generally speaking, over the past couple of years, the average house price in Midlothian has been between 25 and 30 per cent lower than in Edinburgh, so it’s considerably more affordable for a lot of first-time buyers.

“Certainly, if people are thinking of starting families and such like, the opportunity to get a family home for an affordable price is easier in somewhere like Midlothian than in Edinburgh, or in places like East Lothian.”

Nitesh Patel, housing economist at Bank of Scotland, said the pattern for Scotland, where there was very little separation between the areas with the highest and lowest average ages for first-time buyers, was very different from that south of the border.

She said: “The variation in age between the youngest and oldest first-time buyers in Scotland is relatively low, just three years compared to almost a decade seen in England and Wales.

“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.”

The figures also showed that the average age of first-time buyers across Scotland had remained steady over recent decades, standing at 29 in both 1983 and 2001, and 28 this year.

But Mr Marshall said that many first-time buyers had struggled to buy in recent years because of the squeeze on mortgage lending, and added: “All the anecdotal feedback I’ve had is that the average age of first-time buyers has been rising, so I’m a bit surprised by that.

“What we might be seeing is that there’s an increasing proportion of those who are relying on assistance from parents and such like.

“The last figures I’m aware of for the average age of people buying without any parental assistance was more like 37.”

sgyford@edinburghnews.com