The average age of a first-time buyer in the UK

Recent reports indicate that first-time buyers are facing the toughest conditions for purchasing a home in the last 70 years.

With this daunting reality in mind, we've analysed our internal data to reveal the average age of first-time buyers, regional differences, typical deposit amounts, mortgage totals, and average mortgage terms.

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Key statistics

  • The national average age of a first-time buyer in the UK is 33 years, 8 months.

  • Of all UK regions, Londoners join the property ladder the latest in life - averaging 36 years and 8 months old.

  • Comparatively, first-time buyers in Wales tend to join the property ladder earliest in life, averaging 31 years old.

  • Today, the average first-time buyer isn't expected to be mortgage-free until they are 63 years and 8 months old.

  • However, in London, this surpasses the current retirement age at 66 years, 8 months.

  • The average mortgage term that a first-time buyer chooses is 30 years.

  • The North East has the lowest average deposit (£29,740) and mortgage total (£144,953) for first-time buyers, making it one of the more accessible regions for those joining the property ladder.

The average age of a first-time buyer: 33 years, 8 months old 

Navigating the path to homeownership has never been more challenging, and our latest data sheds light on the journey of today’s first-time buyers. 

By analysing every first-time buyer mortgage we've processed over the past two years, we’ve discovered that the average age of a first-time buyer is 33 years and 8 months.

This milestone age reflects the increasing difficulties young adults face in saving for a home. Furthermore, a recent report by Lloyds Banking revealed that in 2023, the average deposit for first-time buyers was a hefty £53,414, with the average mortgage amounting to £234,722. 

John Fraser-Tucker, Head of Mortgages at Mojo Mortgages said: “These figures highlight several financial challenges that first-time buyers in 2024 are facing. 

“Firstly, a combination of stagnant wages and the cost-of-living crisis has made it harder for buyers to save a deposit due to a lack of disposable income. Higher living expenses, including rent, utilities, and daily costs, make it increasingly difficult to set aside money for a deposit.

“These obstacles collectively push the average age of a first-time buyer higher, delaying the dream of homeownership for many. A recent survey by Uswitch revealed that 53% of renters cited ‘affordability’ as the main reason for them not planning on buying a home in the next five years.”

How the average first-time buyer age varies by UK region

While our internal data shows that the average age of a first-time buyer is 33 years and eight months, this figure can vary significantly depending on the area.

Here is the ranking of regions from the youngest to the oldest average first-time buyer age, along with the corresponding deposit and mortgage totals reported by Lloyds Banking in their latest report.

Region

Average Applicant Age

Average Deposit

Average Mortgage Total

Wales

31 years

£36,350

£163,580

North East

32 years, 2 months

£29,740

£199,802

North West

32 years, 5 months

£35,581

£144,953

Yorkshire & The Humber

32 years, 7 months

£33,208

£180,074

East of England

32 years, 9 months

£52,682

£170,970

East Midlands

32 years, 11 months

£36,139

£275,244

Scotland

33 years, 7 months

£39,691

£148,979

South West

33 years, 9 months

£49,135

£224,833

South East

34 years, 4 months

£59,075

£294,649

West Midlands

34 years, 5 months

£37,459

£198,794

London

36 years, 8 months

£108,848

£383,386

First-time buyers in Wales get on the property ladder the earliest, at 31 years

Our research has revealed that first-time buyers in Wales tend to join the property ladder the earliest, at just 31 years old. In this region, the average first-time buyer saves a 22% deposit (£36,350) and secures a mortgage of £163,580.

Following closely are first-time buyers in the North East, who typically purchase their first home at an average age of 32 years and 2 months—13 months later than their Welsh counterparts. However, they manage to save a much lower deposit percentage at 14% (£29,740).

Next is the North West, where the average first-time buyer is 32 years and 5 months old. Here, the typical deposit for a first-time buyer is 17%, amounting to £35,581.

The average first-time buyer in London joins the property ladder at 36 years, 8 months 

On the other end of the spectrum is London. Our internal data reveals that the average first-time buyer in the capital purchases their first property at 36 years and 8 months old, which is nearly six years later than in Wales.

One of the biggest hurdles for first-time buyers in London is saving for a deposit, which is naturally more challenging in the UK’s capital. In London, the average first-time buyer saves £108,848, more than three times the lowest deposit of £29,740 in the North East.

When UK first-time buyers are expected to be mortgage-free

Recent data from the Bank of England has revealed a concerning trend: a surge in under-30-year-olds choosing mortgages with ‘ultra-long’ terms that they’ll still be paying off into retirement. 

Our internal data further supports the BoE's findings; the average mortgage term for a first-time buyer is 30 years. Combining this statistic with the average age of a first-time buyer, it appears that they won't be mortgage-free until they're 63 years and 8 months old.

However, the age can differ depending on the region that the first-time buyer resides in. The following table is in order of the oldest predicted age of being mortgage-free to the youngest, and is based on our internal data for mortgage applications from the last two years:

Region

Average Age of a First-time Buyer

Average Mortgage Term

Predicted Age of Being Mortgage-Free

London

36 years, 8 months

30 years

66 years, 8 months

West Midlands

34 years, 5 months

30 years

64 years, 5 months

South East

34 years, 4 months

30 years

64 years, 4 months

East of England

32 years, 9 months

31 years

63 years, 9 months

Yorkshire & The Humber

32 years, 7 months

31 years

63 years, 7 months

South West

33 years, 9 months

29 years

62 years, 9 months

North West

32 years, 5 months

30 years

62 years, 5 months

East Midlands

32 years, 11 months

30 years

62 years, 11 months

North East

32 years, 2 months

29 years

61 years

Scotland

33 years, 7 months

27 years

60 years, 7 months

Wales

31 years

28 years

59 years

London stands out as the region where first-time buyers face the longest path to mortgage freedom. The average Londoner buys their first home at 36 years and 8 months old, with a 30-year mortgage term, meaning they won't be mortgage-free until they're 66 years and 8 months old.

The West Midlands and South East follow closely behind, with first-time buyers in these regions expected to pay off their mortgages at 64 years and 5 months, and 64 years and 4 months, respectively.

At the other end of the spectrum, Wales has the youngest average age for first-time buyers at 31 years old. With an average mortgage term of 28 years, Welsh first-time buyers can expect to be mortgage-free by age 59, the earliest among all UK regions.

Scotland also fares relatively well, with first-time buyers there expected to pay off their mortgages in 60 years and 7 months. This is partly due to having the shortest average mortgage term at 27 years.

Extending a mortgage by 10 years costs the average first-time buyer an extra £110,640

John Fraser-Tucker, Head of Mortgages at Mojo Mortgages, expresses concern about the long-term implications of longer mortgage terms

He said: “While longer mortgage terms can provide some short-term relief in the form of lower mortgage payments, they come at the cost of significantly higher overall interest charges over the life of the loan.

“Our research has found that with a 10% deposit and the current average mortgage rate of 6.03%, the total cost of an average-priced house (£264,500) varies significantly on the loan term. 

“For a 25-year loan term, the total cost would be £461,400, which includes the principal amount and interest charges. However, if you extend the loan term to 30 years, the same house will cost an additional £53,760, bringing the total cost to £515,160.

“And if you extend the loan term even further to 35 years, the total cost will increase by £110,640 compared to the 25-year term, amounting to £572,040."

Choosing a longer mortgage term may also impact your pension and later life planning

Beyond paying more overall, mortgage borrowers may be forced to use their hard-earned pension funds to pay off their outstanding mortgage balance upon retirement, undermining their financial security in their golden years and increasing the risk of poverty in old age.

In less extreme cases, longer mortgage terms may deprive borrowers of an important period leading up to retirement when they could have been mortgage-free. This window of opportunity can be used to boost pension contributions or to enjoy experiences and activities that may not have been possible during their working years.

Five savvy ways to save for your first home faster

If you aspire to join the property ladder as soon as possible, there are a few strategies that may help you save a deposit in a shorter period:

1. Open a Lifetime ISA to gain £1,000 per year for free

The Lifetime ISA (LISA) allows people aged 18-39 to transfer up to £4,000 per year into this account, which is then topped up by 25% (so £1,000 if you maximise the £4,000 savings) by the government for free. The longer you contribute to a Lifetime ISA, the more free money you’ll receive from the government, so make sure to open one ASAP.

2. Automate your savings

Automating your savings from your current account to a dedicated savings account is an easy way to build up a deposit for a house. If the money automatically moves on payday, you’ll hardly notice it. 

For example, if you transfer £300 out of your bank account on payday, this equates to £3,600 over a year, or £18,000 over five years. Many banks allow you to automate your savings, but if yours doesn’t, there are plenty of “automatic savings” apps out there. 

3. Sign up for the First Homes Scheme to save up to £70,000 

The government offers a First Homes Scheme where first-time buyers can buy a property for 30-50% cheaper than its market value

According to the government, this can mean an average saving of up to £70,000, making homeownership much more accessible. 

Note that there are eligibility requirements: it’s only open to first-time buyers in England, and the purchasers must have a household income of less than £80,000 (or £90,000 in London).

4. Consider a Shared Ownership scheme to reduce mortgage payments 

Shared ownership schemes, such as those offered by housing associations, allow first-time buyers to purchase a share of a property (typically between 25% and 75%) and pay rent on the remaining share. This can provide a more affordable entry point into homeownership and reduce the amount you need to save for a deposit.

5. Seek professional advice to get the best mortgage rate for you

Consult with an experienced mortgage advisor to help guide you through the home-buying process, help you understand your borrowing capacity, and identify suitable mortgages for first-time buyers. 

At Mojo Mortgages, we understand the unique challenges faced by first-time buyers, and our team of experienced mortgage advisors is here to support you every step of the way. Contact us today to explore your options and take the first step towards achieving your homeownership dreams.

By making the most of these strategies, you might be able to join the property ladder earlier than you expected. 

Methodology

The average age of a first-time buyer

To reveal the average age of a first-time buyer, we analysed our internal data of all mortgage applications between April 2022 and April 2024.

The cost of extending your mortgage term

We inputted the following data into Zoopla's Mortgage Calculator, which is correct as of 26th June 2024.

  • Average mortgage rate for a 2 Year Fixed 90% LTV Resi: 6.08% (our internal data)

  • Average house price: £264,500

The average deposit and mortgage total

These are the latest figures provided by Lloyds Bank: