Three-quarters of UK couples postponing marriage to buy a house

03 Mar 2016

Almost three-quarters of couples living in the UK are choosing to postpone planning their big day in order to get on to the housing ladder first

Almost three-quarters of couples living in the UK are choosing to postpone planning a wedding in order to get on to the nation’s ultra-competitive housing ladder first, according to a new survey by a London estate agent.

A survey carried out by lettings and estate agency Chestertons shows that for 71 per cent of couples, buying a home is their top financial priority. With average house prices reaching almost £200,000 in England and Wales and well over the half-a-million-pound mark in London, saving for a deposit and meeting the mortgage payments mean most couples have little or no spare income to set aside to pay for a wedding.

Instead, couples are choosing to buy a home together and are overlooking the romance of tying the knot. In the UK as a whole, the average age to wed has risen to 32 for men and 30 for women, compared to 28 and 26 in 2001, and there are almost 10 million more people still living at home with parents than there were 20 years ago, according to recent data from the Office for National Statistics.

With house prices rising fast in the UK, there’s little hope for would-be homeowners when it comes to having their nuptials paid for outright by a parent – a separate survey commissioned by Chestertons last year showed the tradition of the bride’s parents paying for her big day has all but died out, with just 6 per cent of couples lucky enough to have their wedding paid for this way. This compares to 40 per cent of fathers who paid for their daughter’s wedding in the 1950s.

The latest Chestertons survey also indicates that only half of those who did buy a home together felt they would never be able to afford to get married. Having saved for a deposit and under the burden of monthly mortgage repayments, just 50 per cent of those surveyed said they thought they would be able to pay for a wedding too.

Jess Davies, 29 and living in Norbiton, London, chose to buy a house with her boyfriend Mike before getting married: We bought a house together in 2014, got engaged in 2015 and are getting married this August. At the time of buying a house we had been together eight years, but still wanted to buy somewhere before getting married.

“We couldn’t afford both so, while we always knew we’d get married, getting on the property ladder was just a higher priority. We felt we were wasting money renting and really wanted a place that was truly our own. Our attitude was, we’ve been together so long, what’s another couple of years of waiting to get married?”

Nimish Patel, sales manager of the Greenwich and Blackheath office of Chestertons, says: We advise first-time buyers to put down at least a 10 per cent deposit on a property. We find that most couples would rather invest this money in buying a property over paying for a wedding.

The London Help to Buy scheme does offer some assistance to hard-pressed couples. The Government this month increased the upper limit for the interest-free equity loan it offers new homebuyers in Greater London from 20 per cent to 40 per cent, however the scheme only applies to new-build homes up to a maximum value of £600,000, so buyers will still need to work hard to get best value.”

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