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UK First Time Buyers Consumer Research Report 2021

  • ID: 5457791
  • Report
  • October 2021
  • Region: United Kingdom
  • 89 Pages
  • IRN Research
Almost seven-in-ten first time buyers impacted by COVID

67% of first-time buyers (FTBs) who purchased their homes during the COVID years of 2020 and 2021 were impacted by COVID. Its key impacts on FTBs were:

  • It generally reduced activity. It was more likely to cause a purchase to be postponed rather than bring a purchase forward. It appears COVID’s negative effects were more pronounced at the start of the pandemic in 2020 rather than in 2021, when lockdowns began to ease.
  • It changed the demand for professional support. 2020, the year the pandemic first hit the UK, saw a dramatic shift in FTB attitudes towards getting professional help. Given the uncertainty in the market, the removal of face-to-face contacts between mortgage providers and customers and the withdrawal of many higher loan-to-value mortgages from the market, many FTBs shifted their priorities towards getting professional help when arranging a mortgage. In 2021, in contrast, as the market settled into the new ways of working and lockdowns began to ease, FTBs shifted back to a more self-reliant approach to arranging mortgages, with independent journeys growing in relative importance.
  • It encouraged a Switched On journey. FTBs embarking on a journey in 2021 are much more likely to have had an online-switched on journey compared with those taking a journey in earlier years, with COVID clearly having an important influence on this.  
  • COVID appears to have lowered the dependence on mortgages. Comparing FTBs impacted by COVID to all of those that purchased in 2020 and 2021, indicates that those impacted by COVID tended to rely less on mortgages to pay for their homes compared with those not impacted. This could be because during COVID high LTV mortgages were withdrawn, meaning the market shifted towards more affluent FTBs who rely less on mortgages when buying.
  • It made customer journeys harder to navigate. Journey takers impacted by COVID and more generally all FTBs taking a journey in 2020 and 2021, found the journey harder, compared with those taking journeys in 2018/2019.
  • COVID inspired customer-provider communications. Customers impacted by COVID are much more likely to have initiated contact with their mortgage provider over the past year compare with those not impacted. These FTBs were also more likely to have received communication from their mortgage providers. While 66% of FTBs impacted by COVID contacted their mortgage provider in the past year, only 23% of those not impacted by COVID did likewise.

These and other findings about the nature, shape and types of journeys undertaken by First Time Buyer mortgage customers are discussed in the Report First Time Buyers Customer Journey 2021. This report traces the ‘customer journey’ of consumers when they purchase their first home and take out a mortgage. It considers who FTBs are and the differences between the main types, the types of journeys undertaken (online/office, professionally supported/independent etc.) and considers the pinch points along the process and satisfaction with the overall journey. It finally discusses what happens when the journey is over and the journey taker becomes a customer.  

Three types of first-time buyer (FTB) are considered:

  • Those who have purchased their first homes since 2018: Completed Journey FTBs
  • Future FTBs:
    • Those who are currently engaged in the home buying process but have yet to complete: Journey In Progress FTBs
    • Those who have not yet started a journey but have definite plans to do so over the coming year or so: Journey Not Started FTBs

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  • Completed Journey FTBs get ahead of the game    
  • Guarantor mortgages very popular with FTBs    
  • FTBs prefer a supported journey    
  • Almost half of FTBs have a Switched On Journey    
  • FTBs buy with LTVs of around 55%    
  • Eight-in-ten FTBs use Government Support Schemes    
  • A largely smooth journey    
  • Future FTBs need lots of hand holding    
  • High levels of Post journey provider-FTB communications    
  • A dynamic market    
  • COVID re-shapes the customer Journey    


  • Methodology    
  • The stages of the mortgage process  



  • Completed Journey takers get ahead of the game because they are more affluent    
  • Guarantor mortgages very popular with FTBs    
  • Older FTBs and those buying recently the most likely to have repayment mortgages    
  • Fixed rate deals dominate    
  • Terms lengthen during COVID    
  • A COVID-19 pandemic journey?    
  • Lloyds Banking Group the preferred mortgage provider    


  • Future FTBs likely to need more support than they think    
  • COVID results in more extremes of action    


  • The typical journey moves from virtual to real    
  • Big shift online for communication and arranging    
  • Almost half of FTBs are Switched On    
  • COVID, timing and affluence the main drivers of online actions    
  • An FTB’s journey may start with online resources but there remains a central role for brokers    
  • FTBs prefer online means of communications with mortgage providers    
  • COVID shifts communication further online  



  • FTBs buy with LTVs of around 50%    
  • The reliance on mortgages wanes    
  • The typical FTB has a mortgage of around £140,000    
  • Virtually all home buyers use a mortgage    
  • Four-in-ten buyers get savings support from friends and relatives    
  • Most FTBs buy with spouses or partners    
  • Eight-in-ten FTBs use Government Support Schemes    
  • The value of official support schemes will grow  



  • Four journeys    
  • Being impacted by COVID makes the journey harder    
  • An easier journey improves satisfaction    
  • A better first contact and help with the legal and financial info can improve satisfaction    
  • First and early contact an especially important area to focus on    
  • Mortgage providers are getting key aspects of their services right    
  • But there is always room for improvement    
  • Future FTBs need lots of hand holding    
  • Income and social grade key influences on confidence    


  • Most FTBs are not under financial stress after their purchase    
  • Most FTBs receive provider initiated communications    
  • Almost half of FTB customers initiate a conversation with their providers    
  • COVID drives customer contacts    
  • Most FTB initiated contacts end with a satisfied customer    
  • The customer journey might be moving online, but the telephone remains crucial    
  • FTB market can be fast moving    
  • FTBs from the A social grade will be the main drivers of new business   
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown