Younger Scots priced out of buying their own home

A lack of supply and unaffordable mortgage deposits have been blamed for the historic decline in younger Scots owning their own home.

Fewer Scots under-40 are able to buy their first home than 10 years ago. Picture: Rob McDougall/TSPL
Fewer Scots under-40 are able to buy their first home than 10 years ago. Picture: Rob McDougall/TSPL

Only 28 per cent of those aged 16-34 north of the Border have a mortgage – the lowest level since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999.

More than half of young non-homeowners claim the size of expected deposits to be among the biggest barriers to homeownership, according to the Generation Rent report published by Halifax.

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It found the average non-owner in Scotland only saves £25 a week – the lowest figure across the UK.

John Swinney chats to first-time buyer Laura Dow ahead of the passing of legislation designed to help people get on the housing ladder in 2013. Picture: Neil Hanna/TSPL

Housebuilders are calling for at least 100,000 new homes of all tenures by the end of the next Scottish Parliament to keep pace with demand.

“With the majority of Scots aspiring to own their home, this desire has been frustrated in recent years primarily by lack of supply, compounded by the challenges posed by high mortgage deposit requirements,” said Nicola Barclay, chief executive of industry body Homes for Scotland.

The Scottish Government said it had helped more than 22,000 households own their own home since 2007, with almost three-quarters of those benefitting from shared equity schemes aged between 18 and 34.

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John Swinney chats to first-time buyer Laura Dow ahead of the passing of legislation designed to help people get on the housing ladder in 2013. Picture: Neil Hanna/TSPL

The government will this year invest a further £160 million to support 5,000 more households to buy a home.

“Since 2007 we have also built more homes per head of the population than elsewhere in the UK,” said Angela Constance, cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities.

“This higher per capita rate of house-building in Scotland has helped us build 41,000 more homes than would have been built at England’s lower per capita rate, which is the equivalent of a new town the size of Paisley.”

The number of people owning their own homes in Scotland more than doubled between 1983 and 2003, a faster rise than elsewhere in the UK.

A Bank of Scotland survey found in percentage terms, owner-occupation rose from 38 per cent to 63 per cent. Owner rates across the UK jumped from 59 per cent to 70 per cent over the same period.

But the credit crunch caused by the 2008 international banking crisis saw the number of first time buyers plummet.

Owner-occupiers made up 60 per cent of Scottish households in 2014, down six per cent on 2005.

Barclay added: “Assistance initiatives such as the hugely popular Help to Buy scheme have provided a valuable option for those looking to move onto the housing ladder.

“It is vital that the scheme continues to be fit for purpose, particularly given the changes in criteria with reducing price ceilings meaning that parts of the country may be excluded altogether, and potential purchasers unable to benefit depending where they wish to live.

“It is these same locations that also feel the greatest impact from the changes to Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, so there is a double whammy for anyone wanting to purchase a home there.

“For those not in a position to purchase, the growing Build to Rent Private Rented Sector presents another housing option, with opportunities to increase the supply at scale of new purpose-built properties to rent

“Crucially, all new housing is reliant on a responsive planning system which facilitates the delivery of enough homes of all tenures to meet our country’s diverse housing needs.”