The East of England, and the country as a whole, are slowly facing a crisis in terms of the affordability of housing. The cost of homes has now reached nine times the average wage for first time buyers.
Dramatic house price rises in the region
The Office for National Statistics has shown that UK average house prices increased by 12.4% over the year to April 2022, up from 9.7% in March 2022. The average UK house price was £281,000 in April 2022, which is £31,000 higher than this time last year. In the East of England, which the latest census shows is the fastest growing region in the country, the average house price increase for the year was 11.9%.
There were variations across the region. In Ipswich the average price was £228,958, an 11.8% increase on the same time last year; in Chelmsford it was £385,095, an increase of 14.4%; and in Fenland £234,461, an increase of 17%.
A table showing the price increase per local authority area can be found here.
In the East of England the cost of housing is staggering. The average price paid by a first time buyer was £284,164, while for an existing home owner it was £392,649: respectively, an 11.2% and a 12.6% increase on the year before.
Housing costs are now beyond reach
The average salary in the East of England is reported as £30,867, meaning the average-priced property is over nine times the annual income of a first time buyer, and over twelve times for someone already a home-owner.
Jonathan Rolande, from the National Association of Property Buyers, said this was only going to continue to rise. He said “We can expect to see people living in London and the south east facing prices which are ten times their annual salary by the end of this year.”
“But,” he continued, “this isn’t an issue restricted to those regions. Right across the UK house prices are continuing to rise at a far higher rate than wages. A dwindling amount of available homes is one reason. But we are also seeing a spike in graduate pay. This is leading to some properties at the lower end, which would traditionally be targeted at first time buyers, rising steeply in price as well.
“It’s a nightmare situation but just underlines the need to fast-track building programmes to ensure we have more homes on the market. Dwindling supply is killing off people’s chances of owning their homes. Tackling it is the only solution to this problem.”
Previously announced plans by the Government to increase home ownership by allowing those on Universal Credit to apply for a mortgage or for tenants of Housing Association properties to be able to buy their homes, were met with criticism. This combined with the increased cost of living, higher interest rates and wages not matching inflation poses a genuine threat to the ability of first time buyers to save, and, for home owners to pay their mortgages.
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