The confidence of South Australian first-home buyers has plummeted over the past year, with 80% of respondents to a HomeStart Finance survey saying they were worried about housing affordability and job security.

HomeStart Finance’s First Home Buyer Index, which was first conducted in October 2015, shows confidence tracking downwards among prospective homebuyers, with many feeling less confident about their ability to save for upfront costs and meet mortgage repayments.

The survey, which polled more than 750 homebuyers, indicated that the confidence level fell by 15.5% from April to September of this year, despite improving sentiment about the affordability of property in SA.

Sentiment about buyers’ capacity to save for upfront costs fell 24.2% over the same period, and there was growing pessimism about job security.

A third of first-home buyers believe it will take them more than five years to save for a deposit, with approximately 60% believing it will take them more than three years to save for a deposit.

“In contrast, 44 per cent of home owners (who bought their home before the year 2000) reported that it took them about a year or less to save a deposit,” the report said. “This again, confirms the divide that is growing between home owners and first home buyers.”

“The amount of money required for a home deposit and other fees and charges, such as stamp duty, are consistently highlighted as factors that prevent potential first home buyers from entering the market,” said John Oliver, chief executive officer at HomeStart Finance.

“The ability to save enough money to cover upfront costs is made more difficult by rising costs of living, a concern that was also expressed by first home buyers through the index. The majority of first home buyers also felt that even if they were able to break into the market, they would find it difficult to manage mortgage repayments given the high costs of living.”