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What is a leapfrog buyer?

Written by Ipswich Building Society

9 Jun 2019


First time buyers, Leapfrog buyer, Property market

3 min read

In the past, you may have heard the oft-quoted phrase that the average person moves house about 7 times during their lifetime, generally moving up the property ladder in increments as the equity in their home increases.

According to recent trends however, this is no longer the case.

Research from Zoopla in 2017 showed that on average Brits are moving home every 23 years – a massive change from previous decades when moving was much more common. And since the 2008 financial crisis, homeowners are moving even less than they did before, with people estimated to move only twice in their lifetimes following their first house purchase.

The same piece of research back in 1988 had very different findings. In the midst of the ‘Lawson Boom’ – a period of unprecedented and rapid economic growth under then-chancellor Nigel Lawson – a buoyant property market saw people moving on average every 8.6 years, or around seven times across the course of a lifetime. These figures remained broadly unchanged into the 90’s and 00’s, until 2008 when the picture started to look very different for homeowners considering making a move.

There is a complex mix of reasons why this might be the case – not least the phenomenon of rocketing house prices right across the country, especially in and around London and the South of England. For many homeowners in this region, the next rung on the ladder is simply out of reach even as the equity in their own home increases.

Leapfrog buyers are skipping a step

In areas where climbing the housing ladder is not a realistic option for many middle-earners, some people have resorted to simply buying their forever home earlier, rather than climbing the ladder over a number of years or decades – hence the term ‘leapfrog buyer’. For first time buyers with a substantial deposit and/or help from the Bank of Mum and Dad, this is becoming a more practical option and saves money over the long term (such as moving & estate agent fees and Stamp Duty). 

Of course, in other areas of the country moving is still common, particularly in areas where house prices are generally lower – in South Norfolk for example, properties are changing hands every 10 or so years, meaning climbing the property ladder is still an achievable goal for some homeowners. As well as house prices, a homeowner’s ability to trade up also depends on the local property market – too hot, and prices will rise quickly, but if it’s stagnant then borrowers could be left waiting a long time before the right property comes onto the market.

In any case, the trend of ‘leapfrog buyers’ looks like it’s here to stay, with borrowers searching for increasingly larger loans to enable them to get into their dream home straight away.

At Ipswich Building Society we offer free, no-obligation mortgage advice through our team of expert mortgage consultants. If you’re looking for a loan to unlock your dream home, give us a call on 0330 123 1073.

This article was published under our previous name of Ipswich Building Society. We changed our name in 2021 – find out more.

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