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Options open in buying game

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: September 06, 2012

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When David Cameron asked for a 'big society' one group was already ahead of him - Britain's parents, who have been digging deep for some time now to help their offspring as they try to get on the property ladder.

A recent report by Scottish Widows revealed that a third of parents have become 'bankers' to their children, reflecting how hard first time buyers are struggling to secure a mortgage.

Their numbers have been dropping dramatically over the past decade. In 2011 187,000 people bought their first home, seven per cent less than 2010 and a fraction of the 403,000 recorded in 2006, according to the Halifax.

The stumbling block for most is saving up the 20 per cent deposit many lenders now demand – and the years it takes to achieve, even if they live frugally, and can squirrel away a fifth of their gross income.

The answer, if you do the maths using average wage data from the government and house price information from Zoopla.co.uk, is between five and 16 years.

The places where this wait lasts the longest include London (16 years), Bath (14 years), Oxford (13 years), Brighton and Hove (11 years) and Cambridge (10 years).

The only way around this problem is to somehow find a shortcut. The most common is the 'bank of mum and dad' and in March this year it was revealed that a third of parents have lent their children £10,000 or more to buy a first home.

But for those without such generous parents, there is FirstBuy.

It's a government scheme that asks first time buyers to save up a five per cent deposit while the builder and government pitch in with ten per cent each, leaving 75 per cent of the purchase price to be funded with a mortgage.

The signs are that both these options are finally working, but very slowly.

This June lending jumped by nearly four percent compared to last year and nearly ten percent more than in May – which at least shows how the desire to get on the ladder remains, despite the economy.

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