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Where are all the first-time buyers? We’ve found them.

Thursday 9 May 2019 Data Insight & AnalyticsDemographic DataProperty Development

John Platt's picture
By John Platt

The situation is clear: as the UK economy changes, the property ladder has changes too. But without a clear view of the data, residential developers risk carrying on as usual – and hoping for the best.

That’s a pity, because the first-time buyers, up-sizers and down-sizers are still out there. And by knowing how to appeal to them, a developer can ensure success for a new project before they’ve even broken ground.

We’ve used Acorn – our demographic segmentation of the UK population – to analyse what’s going on at these three key stages of the property ladder. It enabled us to work out exactly who the house-movers are, what they want in a property and when.

You’ll see our findings in detail in our new Understanding House Movers infographic  – and I’ve outlined some of the key findings below.

First time buyers want amenities

It’s true, first time buyers are a small proportion of the UK property market. That’s because the current economic and political situation has made younger people far less confident in the housing market than their older counterparts.

But the younger buyers are still there, if you know where to look. The average age of a first home buyer is 28, typically living and working major cities.

The average age of a first home buyer is 28

CACI How We Live

In our recent blog post on the subject, we highlighted research showing this age group particularly values close public transport links, and additional amenities like bicycle storage or an on-site gym.

They’re also among the highest internet and social media users, so you’ll want to ensure good connectivity – and possibly emphasise digital channels in your marketing strategy.

Up-sizers look for road links, shops, and local schools

People are mostly likely to trade up to a bigger property between the ages of 35 and 44, but on average are 39 years old when they up-size. It’s part of getting settled into family life, and this is reflected in the research.

Above all, this age group tends to be interested in the quality of local schools. Good road accessibility and high quality local shops, pubs and restaurants are also important factors. Our blog post on matching the location to the age group goes into more detail.

People are mostly likely to trade up to a bigger property at 39

CACI How We Live

In particular, the Acorn group “Executive Wealth” is key. They’re high-income professionals with significant savings and investments, who are also likely to own a second home. It’s large proportion of the market, accounting for 8.1 million UK residents.

Homeowners are waiting before downsizing

If your strategy is to tempt homeowners to move to a smaller property, the most realistic option is to wait until retirement.

Although many children will have grown up and moved out by the time a homeowner is in their fifties, the most popular time to downsize is after 65. On average, they have lived at their previous address for 15 years.

However, don’t assume this decision is driven by financial hardship. There are 5.8 million adults classified in the “Mature Money” Acorn group, with the time and money to enjoy life.

Downsizers have lived at their previous address for 15 years on average

CACI How We Live

The research shows these movers are likely to live in rural towns and villages – and that they’re likely to demand both a good garden, and plenty of local green space.

Stack the odds in your favour

When the market is tough, and buyers are choosy, developers need to do more than ever to ensure there’s a real demand for the homes they build. That means testing your instincts with data, and designing each development with a clear market in mind.

But if you know who’s likely to buy, where they want to move to, what they want and what they can afford, you have a serious advantage – both in terms of risk mitigation, and ROI. More homes sell, and faster.

And because you have hard evidence, you’re well prepared to win buy-in, investment, and planning permission along the way.

At CACI, we can help you understand your likeliest buyers in unprecedented detail. And we can tell you the kind of development format and tenure that’s likely to appeal. In a changing market, that gives you the best possible chance.

For a bigger snapshot of the UK mover market, download the Understanding House Movers infographic. Or if you’re interested in learning more about how Acorn segmentation can help boost your decision making, get in touch with our team of experts.


Understanding House Movers

New research shows people move home at very specific times in their lives – and that three key demographics hold the key to a successful development.

Where are all the first-time buyers? We’ve found them.


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