Sharp Rise In Couples Blaming High House Prices For Delaying Starting A Family

29th August 2012

The high cost of housing is putting more couples off starting a family, according to a new report, with a 63 per cent rise in those citing this as a reason in just three years.

One in five people aged between 31 and 44 who do not have children feel forced to delay starting a family due to high house prices making it difficult to purchase a home big enough to meet their needs, while rental accommodation doesn’t offer enough security.

According to research by charity Shelter, 26 per cent of those putting starting a brood on hold say that they have been doing so for five years or more – it says this means that more than a million people in this age group could be delaying starting a family because of housing issues.

This is a 63 per cent rise in people putting off having children because of housing costs compared with a similar study carried out just three years ago.

The research found one in three first-time buyers are now aged over 35. Large deposits and strict lending criteria along with the weak economy is stopping many from getting on the property ladder.

This has lead to a drop in their proportion of mortgage approvals, while the range of mortgages available to first-time buyers and people with deposits of 10 per cent or less has shrunk significantly over the last half a year.

Rising rental prices are also putting strain on potential first-time buyers’ finances and making it hard to save. Rental prices hit £725 in July, according to lettings network LSL Property Services, with annual rental inflation climbing to two per cent.

A report from Lloyds TSB last week also found that people trying to take their second step on the housing ladder, who are often those trying to trade up because they want to start having children, are facing some of the toughest market conditions seen in a generation.

Many would-be second-time buyers are stuck in negative equity because they bought their first home at the top of the market.

However, for those who do manage to meet lenders’ stricter criteria and raise a deposit, a separate study from Halifax found yesterday that typical mortgage payments for a new borrower, including first-time buyers and home movers, are at their most affordable in 15 years.

Shelter said the Government must take radical action to stop an entire generation being held back by a ‘desperate shortage’ of affordable homes.

Kay Boycott, director of communications, policy and campaigns at Shelter, said: ‘It’s heartbreaking that so many people are being forced to put their lives on hold in this way.

‘Sadly, more and more couples are finding that despite working hard and saving hard, they’re still priced out of a stable and affordable home, trapped in rented housing where landlords can evict them or raise the rent at any time.

Netmums founder Sally Russell said a family home was one of the most basic requirements for raising children, but many people are finding this increasingly unattainable.

She said: ‘Sadly for a number of these, leaving it too late may mean they may never able to have children. For others, it could mean both parents forced to work full time when their baby is tiny just to keep a roof over their heads.

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