Clawing your way on to the property ladder was never easy, but rising interest rates and spiralling house prices are making it impossible for would-be homeowners to get a toehold on the first rung.
The typical property bought by a first-time buyer at the end of 2006 cost pound;141,832, according to the Nationwide building society. To buy it, with a standard three-and-a-half times salary mortgage, you would need a pound;40,000 salary - at least. And with every interest rate rise and house price hike, the poor first-time buyer has to find more money for a deposit and those monthly mortgage repayments. A typical first-time buyer now has to find pound;120 more a month compared with a year ago.
But let's look on the bright side: it's still possible to buy your own property even if you're a new teacher on pound;20,000 a year. It may not be a palace, but it will be a start.
The average buyer borrows 3.29 times their salary, giving a new teacher about pound;65,800 to play with. In bricks and mortar, this would get you a one-bedroom flat in Halifax, or a high-spec beach hut on the south coast.
And that's before legal fees, council tax and cost of furnishings.
For something rather more lavish, here are your options: firstly, there's the Family Bank. Board members include mum, dad, grandma, grandad and any sympathetic relatives. More than 40 per cent of first-time buyers now rely on parents for help, according to the Bradford Bingley building society.
Then there are "mates mortgages": moneyfacts.co.uk has found more than 60 lenders who will accept applications from groups of four individuals. But beware, buying your dream home this way could become a nightmare if one of you defaults on payment or moves out.
The Teachers Building Society (TBS) offers a group mortgage and only one of the four buying has to be a practising education professional. The society, an independent mutual building society set up by the National Union of Teachers in 1966, prides itself on meeting the needs of the profession.
"We understand some of the short-term contracts being offered to teachers,"
says Mike Hislop of the TBS. "And we are prepared to provide mortgages to supply teachers too. Obviously, we look at each application on its own merits."
Then there's the "buy part of a house" option. If you can't afford a whole property, it's worth finding out if you are eligible for the Government's HomeBuy scheme for keyworkers (www.communities.gov.uk).
The TBS is one of the lenders enabling teachers to buy a share of a property with a mortgage of up to 100 per cent. You pay rent to a housing association for the remaining portion of the property, increasing the percentage you own as your pay goes up.
Helen Gregory (left), a 26-year-old teacher from Surrey, took advantage of the scheme. The TBS offered her a 100 per cent mortgage on a 35 per cent share of a flat in Redhill, Surrey. She pays monthly mortgage repayments of pound;347 and rental of pound;244 per month. "It's not a cheap option,"
she says. "Effectively, I'm paying the same as if I was renting, but this way I get on the housing ladder."
Finally, there's the never-never option. Nearly a third of UK lenders now allow buyers to take out a mortgage lasting for 40 years. But you should consider the long-term costs involved. And do you want to be working in your sixties?
the wealthy teacher
HOW TO GET STARTED
Look for your property and compare prices at www.rightmove.co.uk Work out what you can afford using a mortgage calculator at www.mortgages.co.uk, www.teachersbs.co.uk or call 01202 843 500.
First-time buyer facts
Only 20 per cent of 20 to 24-year-olds now own their homes, compared with 34 per cent in 1994.
Mortgage repayments use up 42 per cent of their take-home income, compared with 18 per cent in 1996. First-time buyers make up only 38 per cent of those borrowing money to buy a house, compared with 50 per cent in the 1980s and 90s.