Number of first-time buyers in Scotland surge in the last decade

25 January 2020

  • Number of first-time buyers up by almost 16,000 in 10 years
  • Average price of first home in Scotland is now £152,728
  • North Ayrshire the most affordable location for first-time buyers

The number of first-time buyers in Scotland rose to 33,558 in 2019, an increase of more than 90% from 17,580 a decade ago, according to the latest research from Bank of Scotland.

That’s also a rise of around 3% (1,028) over the last year. First-time buyers still account for 50% of all property purchases with a mortgage in Scotland, up from 38% in 2009.

The Bank of Scotland First-Time Buyer Review also revealed that the average price paid for a typical first home has gone up by 38% (£41,687) in Scotland over the last 10 years, from £111,402 in 2009 to £152,728 in 2019. Meanwhile, the average deposit put down by a first-time buyer increased by 13% over the same period, from £26,427 to £29,950.

Over the last year alone, the average price paid by a first-time buyer in Scotland rose by 8% (£10,771), while the average deposit was up by 11% (£2,879).

However, Scotland remains one of the most affordable places in the UK to buy a first property, with only Northern Ireland (£136,850) and the North (£136,104) recording a lower average price for first-time buyers in 2019.

This compares to a UK average first-time buyer price of £231,455, while the average UK deposit last year for first-time buyers was £46,187.

Ricky Diggins, Operations Director, Bank of Scotland: We’ve seen a big uplift in the number of first-time buyers in Scotland over the last decade, and they continue to account for around half of all purchases. This shows just how important they are to the health of the Scottish property market, a situation that’s been helped by a number of factors, including Government schemes and continued low interest rates.

Scotland also remains one of the most affordable areas in the whole of the UK, with both average prices and deposits much lower than the overall average across the four nations. That only tells part of the story though, with significant differences seen in many local areas, and locations such as Edinburgh and East Lothian looking more challenging for those aiming to take that first step onto the property ladder.

Local first-time buyer affordability

The most affordable local authority district in Scotland is North Ayrshire, where the average price paid for a first home is £107,198, or 3.3 times the local gross average annual earnings of £32,866. That’s closely followed by East Ayrshire and Inverclyde (both also 3.3).

The least affordable local authority district in Scotland is Midlothian, with an average property price of £174,033, at 5.2 times the average gross annual earnings of £33,319.
The highest average price for those taking their first step on the property ladder is in the capital, where at £211,307, Edinburgh prices are 5.1 times the average gross annual earnings.

East Lothian has recorded the biggest deterioration in affordability over the last decade, where the average price for a first-time buyer has risen from £135,369 to £182,922. Meanwhile, earnings have remained relatively flat, rising from £34,000 to £35,510 over the same period. This means the affordability measure has worsened by 29%, from 4.0 to 5.2 in 10 years.