Second-stepper syndrome: the property problem that’s overlooked

Plenty of column inches are devoted to the uphill challenge young people face making their first step on to the property ladder, the bank of mum and dad, and the amount of cash wasted on avocados. But fewer headlines are devoted to the so-called second-steppers – a group I belong to. Jumping on to the next rung is another daunting obstacle to conquer, so why is it so rarely written about? 

Research by online estate agents Housesimple found the price differential between the first and second steps of the property ladder has doubled over the past decade, from £37,225 to £75,388 for those upsizing from a flat to a terraced or semi-detached house. Over this buoyant period, the average price appreciation of a house has significantly outstripped that of a flat, which is why the gap between the two has increased so remarkably. 

I have developed ‘second-stepper syndrome’; having bought a flat two and a half years ago with my partner, we’re now looking to upsize to a family home to accommodate our cat, toddler, and the mountain of accoutrements we seem to have acquired for him. As if this next step wasn’t expensive enough, having unpropitiously bought at the top of the market, we are likely going to end up selling the flat for less than we paid for it. Therefore, we are pretty much back at square one again and having to raise another deposit to enable us to buy a more expensive property. 

But I am just going to have to grit my teeth and get on with it. The only solutions I can think of that might have enabled me to climb straight on to the second rung involve either inheritance money, or living with my parents and paying nominal board rather than renting for a decade – which would not have been ideal for my work commute into London, as they live in Liverpool. 

We could always uproot, with Housesimple noting that while the gap between house price and flat price values has risen across the board, the increase is less significant outside of the capital. But with both our jobs and the toddler’s other grandparents down south, this is not an option for us. Instead, we are stuck with a second stepper syndrome that’s incurable.  

Prudent Parent is a new column that offers money-saving tactics to help save for children and grandchildren.

– Prudent Parent: Build a ‘rainy day baby’ fund for parental leave

– Are premium bonds a good investment for children? 

– Prudent Parent: avoid this common Junior Isa mistake