- 7 in 10 would-be first-time buyers had to rethink their plans in 2020
- 10.5 million(1) UK people put house-buying plans on hold in 2020
- People anticipate delaying their home-buying plans by 16 months on average
- 2 million people bought a home unexpectedly in 2020, but only 13% due to stamp duty break
Almost one in three UK adults intended to buy a home in 2020, but only a third of people in this group were able to progress their plans, according to a new study from Aviva.
The latest ‘How We Live’ study of 6,000 UK adults reveals, at the start of 2020, 29% of the population intended to purchase a property. However, only one in 10 residents (9%) actually carried out their proposals successfully, while 20% of UK adults – equivalent to around 11 million people(1) – had to halt their plans.
of the population intended to purchase a property at the start of 2020.
The issue was particularly apparent amongst younger residents, with almost a third of under-25s (29%) and two fifths (39%) of those aged 25-34 seeing their home-buying plans thwarted in 2020.
Correspondingly, abandoned plans were most common among people who intended to buy their first home: seven in 10 (69%) of these first-home hopefuls say they needed to rethink their property-buying plans during 2020.
These frustrated buyers are in stark contrast to the 4% of the population - equivalent to around 2 million people(1) - who hadn’t planned to buy a home at the start of the year, but found themselves doing so in 2020. This activity is again skewed towards younger generations, with under-25s twice as likely to have made a move (8%) compared to the percentage across all age groups.
While the stamp duty holiday had some impact on behaviours, with 13% of ‘sudden movers’ saying they moved to take advantage of the break, it was by no means the only motivator.
Aside from stamp duty, more than a quarter (27%) of people who moved home suddenly in 2020 needed to find somewhere bigger or more suitable for home-working arrangements. Lockdown took its toll for 16% of people in this sub-set who needed to move due to a relationship breakdown. More happily, one in 10 in this group started to live with a partner during lockdown and decided to make this arrangement permanent.
of people who moved home suddenly in 2020 needed to find somewhere bigger or more suitable for home-working arrangements.
People were most likely to make swift purchases in London (7% compared to the national average of 4%) where property prices are traditionally amongst the highest and where the biggest potential stamp duty savings could be made. Residents in the East of England were also more likely to make unexpected house moves at 6% of adults in this region, while people in the North East were least likely at just 2% of residents.
Why were people unable to buy?
Among those who paused their house-buying plans, delays relate mainly to financial concerns and worries about job security. More than a third (36%) of people who had planned to buy a home in 2020 but didn’t, say they were nervous about taking on additional financial commitments at that time and a fifth (21%) report that a member of the household lost their job or was furloughed.
One in seven of these hindered buyers (14%) had intended to move for a new job, but halted their plans because they started working from home.
Amongst older homeowners, there is also a sense that some were struggling to sell their homes, potentially because they tend to be larger and more expensive. This ties in with the view that prospective buyers were reluctant to take on further debt.
One in six (16%) over-55s in this group of hopeful movers say they could not find a buyer for their property, compared to one in 10 across all age groups and just 6% in the 25-34 age category. Full details of reasons for putting plans on hold or buying property unexpectedly in 2020 can be seen in notes to editors.
Not cancelled, just postponed (but for how long?)
In the vast majority (94%) of cases, the people who paused their property-buying plans in 2020, still intend to purchase a home in the future. However, they are prepared for a considerable wait, anticipating their purchase will be delayed by around 16 months on average. One prospective buyer in 10 (9%) expects their plan to be postponed by at least three years, including 3% who envisage a delay of at least five years.
Gareth Hemming, MD Personal Lines, Aviva says: “The stamp duty break has brought welcome opportunities to people who were in a position to make a property purchase and there’s been much talk of the booming housing market.
“However, there’s also a hidden story of people who were hoping to move in 2020 but had to put their plans on hold because of the many uncertainties. The How We Live study suggests there are far more people in this camp than those who have been able to benefit from the stamp duty holiday.
“It remains to be seen how this will play out in the longer term, but we can hope that progress will be made in 2021, bringing new hopes for those who have found themselves in limbo this year.”
Data relates to a survey of 6,028 randomly selected UK adults aged 16 and upwards, carried out by Censuswide Research on behalf of Aviva between 29 October and 12 November 2020.
(1) Based on ONS population estimates of 52.6 million adults aged 18 and above.
Reasons given for putting house-buying plans on hold in 2020
Worried about job security so didn't want extra financial commitments
Member of the household lost a job / was furloughed so couldn't afford to move
Planning to move but a house sale / rental agreement fell through
Planning to move for a new job but now working from home
Planning to move for a new job, but the role fell through
Wanted to move but not found a buyer for property
Reasons given for moving unexpectedly in 2020
Needed to move because of financial changes (e.g. job loss / furlough) - needed to find a more affordable home
Needed to find a bigger / different home more suitable to working from home arrangements
Needed to move because I changed my job
Needed to move due to a relationship break-down
Wanted to take advantage of the removal of stamp duty
Moved in with a partner during lockdown and decided to make this change permanent
Moved in with family during lockdown and decided to make this change permanent
Notes to editors:
- For information on how Aviva is helping our people, customers and communities impacted by COVID-19 visit: www.aviva.com/covid-19-our-response/
- We exist to be with people when it really matters, throughout their lives – to help them make the most of life. We have been taking care of people for more than 320 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’.
- In 2020, we paid £30.6 billion in claims and benefits to our customers.
- Aviva is invested in our people, our customers, our communities and our planet. In 2021, we announced our plan to become a Net Zero carbon emissions company by 2040, the most demanding target of any major insurance company in the world. This plan means Net Zero carbon emissions from our investments by 2040; setting out a clear pathway to get there with a cut of 25% in the carbon intensity of our investments by 2025 and of 60% by 2030; and Net Zero carbon emissions from our own operations and supply chain by 2030. Aviva has been leading this agenda for decades: Aviva was the first international insurer to go operationally carbon neutral in 2006 and we are champions of renewable energy and energy storage at our offices, allowing us to achieve our 2030 carbon reduction target (70% reduction on 2010 levels) 10 years early. Find out more about our climate goals at www.aviva.com/climate-goals and our sustainability ambition at www.aviva.com/sustainability.
- Aviva is a Living Wage and Living Hours employer and provides market-leading benefits for our people, including flexible working, paid carers leave and equal parental leave. Find out more at www.aviva.com/social-purpose
- We are focused on the UK, Ireland and Canada where we have leading market positions and significant potential. We will invest for growth in these markets. Our international businesses in Europe and Asia will be managed for long-term shareholder value. We will also transform our performance and improve our efficiency. Our transformation will be underpinned by managing our balance sheet prudently, reducing debt and increasing our financial resilience.
- Total group assets under management at Aviva group are £535 billion and our Solvency II capital surplus is £13.0 billion (FY20). Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE 100 index.
- For more details on what we do, our business and how we help our customers, visit www.aviva.com/about-us
- The Aviva newsroom at www.aviva.com/newsroom includes links to our spokespeople images, podcasts, research reports and our news release archive. Sign up to get the latest news from Aviva by email.
- You can follow us on:
- For the latest corporate films from around our business, subscribe to our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/aviva
- We have a Globelynx system for broadcast interviews. Please contact the Press Officer noted above if you would like to make a booking.