What are first time buyers searching for?

The last decade, in buyer terms, can be summed up by the movement of the first time buyer segment from marginal to prominent. And that’s having an effect on what they’re searching for.

We recorded eight consecutive years of growth in those buying their first home from 2010 to 2018. And while this growth has been more muted since 2019, the market has still grown a colossal 85% overall since 2010.

With their position in the market having strengthened, where specifically are we seeing first time buyer demand heading?

As ever, the regional picture shows a myriad of growth and demand patterns across the country.

Use our tool to see what first time buyers are searching for in your area

First time buyers’ top 5 search terms

If we were to sum up first time buyer searching habits on Zoopla with one word, it would be ‘space’.

Three of the top ten searches we’re seeing from first time buyers match this mood. Their number-one search term was ‘garden’, with fellow space-seeking terms like ‘freehold’ and ‘detached’ rounding out the top ten.

It all points towards a segment buying in closer alignment to their property future.

Developers should factor first time buyers’ longer-term buying habits into housing specifications and broaden marketing efforts beyond starter homes.

Flexible about dwelling type

Car-based flexibility is clearly a first time buyer focus, with ‘parking’ and ‘garage’ taking spots 2 and 3 in search volume.

And balconies also feature in the top ten, a compromise on outside space for those buying in bigger cities.

Somewhat unexpectedly, ‘bungalow’ was the tenth-most-popular first time buyer search term. It’s evident of a segment being more tenacious in its hunting and looking into all dwelling possibilities.

Buying for the longer term

As evidenced by their searching habits, first time buyers increasingly seem to be taking a longer-term view and buying somewhere with longevity rather than just traditional starter homes.

Growing availability of longer-term loans has certainly had an impact here, as well as higher LTVs and stamp duty relief.