Out of Reach: First-Time Buyers and the “Cuckoo Couple” 

Published on 24 February, 2017 | Sam Hall

Sam Hall - Hall Brown Family Law

Regular readers of this ‘blog might recall how, earlier this year, I penned an article about a phenomenon known as the ‘cuckoo couple’.

It followed myself and my colleagues observing the impact on the stability of middle-aged marriages by adult children returning home, often with a partner in tow.

The pattern has become more frequent as more and more young people have found it difficult to afford their own properties after starting work and our work was reported at the time by national media (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/05/rise-cuckoo-couples-children-returning-nest-new-partners-could/).

Greater weight has now been given to the factors in cases that we have handled by a new and comprehensive study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) (http://visual.ons.gov.uk/prospective-homeowners-struggling-to-get-onto-the-property-ladder/).

Using data on house values along with information on the sorts of deposits required by lenders, the salaries needed to secure a mortgage and the associated costs of moving, such as Stamp Duty, the ONS has calculated that individuals would need to come up with more than £23,000 in order to afford a home at the average entry-level price in England and Wales of £140,000.

For those living in London, for example, the ONS suggest the current climate means having to earn a salary of almost £60,000 and saving £55,000 for the chance to become homeowners, sums which are sadly beyond the reach of many.

The ONS material provides very stark and understandable reasons as to why young adults believe the only realistic option open to them is to head back to Mum and Dad to reduce their outgoings while they amass the cash necessary to finally get on the property ladder.

As we have noted, whilst they are appreciative of that support, many remain unaware of the consequences of their return to the family home until it is too late for their parents’ marriages.

What the ONS and others have revealed indicates that the situation does not seem like resolving itself any time soon.

The ‘cuckoo couple’, therefore, is quite probably here to stay because of the sheer expense of establishing an independent home life and at the expense of many parents able and willing to accommodate children in need.

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