First-time buyers

A sobering new survey has found that the number of first-time buyers has dropped to its lowest point since 1980.

The reason is that house prices have soared by 82 per cent over the past five years.  The average price paid by a first-time buyer for a property increased by 15 per cent  during this year to over £175,000 - putting it out of the reach of a typical first-time buyer in 96 per cent of towns.

The ninth least affordable town in the country is Pulborough.  In fact the gap between pay and house prices has grown more in West Sussex than anywhere else - prices have gone up more than nine times faster than salaries.

Mortgage payments are making up the biggest share of take-home pay for 17 years.  First-time buyers must spend almost five times more than they did a decade ago to get on the housing ladder, with poorer families having to save almost a year's salary for stamp duty and a deposit.

Unsurprisingly, when they do enter the market, first-time buyers are now more likely to be in their 30s rather than their 20s, buying a flat rather than a terraced house.   Locally, young people are being forced out of the area altogether in a desperate search for more affordable housing.

More shared ownership schemes could help.  We should also cut stamp duty for first time buyers.   But at the end of the day, the fact is that there is a mismatch between supply and demand.   I know this is challenging - but we need more homes.

Of course, we must build more houses sustainably.   We have a major infrastructure deficit in West Sussex already, and precious countryside to protect.

Let's hope for a soft landing as the housing market eases off.  And let's give the next generation the same chance to realise the dream of their own home.

Michelle Taylor