When I first entered Estate Agency in 1972, I worked in Camberley Surrey, and my first job was to sell property in the Blackwater area to first time buyers.

At that time, first time buyers traditionally would be a young couple having got married at, say, 20 – 21 years of age and a typical example would be the couple both working hard to save for a 10% deposit for their first house. Typically, they might be moving from the Teddington/Middlesex area of London to the Camberley region as it offered better value for money.  The rule of thumb was that the further you went out from London, the cheaper property became.

Normally the property would be around £10,000 and the buyers would have around £1,000 to put down as deposit.  There wasn’t much money around and it was a serious decision but I would regularly have to show the couple about 10 properties (at that time the property market was oversupplied with property).  This would invariably mean spending an awful lot of time with young first time buyers and talking through every aspect of the property move and giving them advice on financial services matters, costs of solicitors and generally holding their hand all the way through the process.

Fast forward to 2011 we had an entirely different scenario.  It is almost unheard of to look at first time buyers in that way now.  The typical first time buyers are normally in their 30’s and invariably either buying on their own or, if in a partnership, both working as fully qualified graduate professionals, perhaps for  London solicitors or IT companies, on substantial salaries, and with a lot of knowledge of how to go about buying and selling property.

This information is, of course, available to them through the internet and the general acceptance is that there are a lot more property ‘savvy’ people about.  However the expertise of the Agent is still fundamental in trying to locate and secure the right property for them, but in terms of the advice, although still required, is in a different capacity.

Another big difference  is that there are far fewer people moving house these days so the kind of stock availability from that time to now is considerably different in that there is less choice around, but the lucky first time buyers working with a much bigger budget often tend to step into the property market at a higher level anyway.

Interestingly enough, those properties in Blackwater once selling for £10,000 in 1972 now sell for £215,000 so it still demonstrates, if nothing else, that property remains a very good investment in this part of the world!

Ed Mackenzie Smith