The desperation of first-time buyers has almost brought me to tears - Susan Dalgety

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I have become embroiled in the over-heated lottery that is Edinburgh and Lothian’s housing market. An unexpected chance to move from our much-loved, but second-floor, tenement flat in Fisherrow to a ground floor place close to family was too good to miss.

We may be giving up a wonderful sea view, but our new home is next to the Union Canal, in the heart of the city. Morningside, where even the charity shops are posh, is only a few hundred yards away, and the cultural delights of Usher Hall and the Filmhouse are a short walk instead of a 30-minute bus ride.

But as excited as I am by our move, I have been almost brought to tears by the desperation of first-time buyers trying to get on the city’s housing ladder.

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Our flat appeals to a younger demographic. We downsized to be able to travel, so we have had a stream of young couples and single folk through our front door. For some, it’s their second or third try at securing a home in a market that sees flats go for 20 per cent (or more) over the asking price.

Others have yet to put a bid in on anything and you can tell they are terrified by the process. “How much do you want?” they ask timidly. “We can only afford X”, they say. “Is that possible?”

My heart goes out to them. They are trying to make the biggest financial decision of their life in a market that is, quite frankly, crazy. But at least they can be able to get their first foot on the housing ladder. There are many, many more young people whose dream of owning even a studio flat on the edge of the city will never come true.

They face being trapped at home, living like a child with their parents, or forced into the even more crazy rental market that sees two-bedroom flats in Dalry costing £1,000 a month.

It’s far too early to tell how the new Labour minority administration in Edinburgh will fare, but the one promise they must not break is their pledge to build 25,000 council homes in the next decade.

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