Young home owners 'face debt worry'

Around half of young home owners who have relied on some extra form of help to get on the housing ladder are now worried about the level of debt they have taken on, a report warns.

A report has revealed many young home owners are worried about repaying their mortgages
A report has revealed many young home owners are worried about repaying their mortgages

Younger property owners are more likely to have relied on measures such as mortgage terms of more than 25 years, loans from family and friends and help from the state such as the Help to Buy scheme to give them an extra leg up on to the housing ladder using only a low deposit, research from consumer group the HomeOwners Alliance found.

Seven in 10 home owners aged between 25 to 34 said they had relied on something which had made their home more affordable, which could also include having taken out an interest-only mortgage or a mortgage deal with a particularly low rate.

But the report, which was also compiled by conveyancing provider myhomemove, highlighted young people's fears that they could be storing up problems for the future.

Just under half (49%) of those in this age group who had received added help to be able to afford to buy their home said they worry about their housing debt. This is higher than the average across all age groups, with 30% of all home owners who had used some form of affordable financing to get on the property ladder saying they are concerned about their debt.

Nearly one quarter (23%) of young people who had relied on help said they were worried about being able to pay their mortgage off one day, one fifth (20%) say they are worried they may slip into negative equity if the value of their home declines and a similar proportion (19%) are worried about being able to keep up with their monthly mortgage payments in the long term.

The prospect of interest rates eventually rising was found to be a particular concern among the young, with 49% of those who have had extra help to be able to afford their home saying they fear interest rate rises will make it harder for them to keep up with loan payments.

The report follows a string of studies which have pointed to house prices continuing to rise strongly, prompting speculation that the Bank of England may take further steps to calm the housing market.

A mortgage lending clampdown came into force in April, which means people face more rigorous checks to make sure they can afford their mortgage payments, both now and when interest rates start to increase.

Last week, Nationwide Building Society reported that UK house prices have reached a new all-time high in cash terms of £186,512 on average after leaping by 11.1% in the space of 12 months.

Halifax reported that property values jumped by 3.9% month-on-month in May, marking the strongest monthly increase it has seen since 2002.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, said young people are resorting to "desperate measures" to be able to jump on the ladder as house prices increase.

She said: "This goes to show that the housing crisis is giving people a raw deal. Schemes to make homes more affordable in the short term do little to solve the fact that we need many more new homes, in the right place and at the right price."

The research found some regional variations, with home owners living in the East more likely to have taken on a low interest rate mortgage or an interest-only mortgage, where the capital is only repaid when the mortgage term comes to an end, than people in the UK as a whole.

Home owners in Scotland were less likely to have extended their mortgage term beyond 25 years than UK home owners overall. In Wales, 12% of home owners said they had received cash help from friends or family to buy their home, which was slightly higher than the average across the survey at 11%. In the North, just 9% of home owners said they had received financial help from friends or family.

The research was carried out among more than 2,500 adults in March, of whom more than 1,600 owned their own home.

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said: "The Government is helping aspiring homeowners onto the property ladder in a way that supports responsible lending.

"Since the launch of Help to Buy private house building is up 34% and a reinvigorated Right to Buy means even more tenants are able to become homeowners. Council house building has hit a 23-year high and since 2010 more than 170,000 new affordable homes have been built around the country."