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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 April, 2004, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Salary gap hits first-time buyers
House hunters
Single first-time buyers are being priced out of the housing market
House and flat prices are now too expensive for single first-time buyers in all regions of the UK except Scotland, according to research.

Salary database PayFinder.com found that house prices are now more than four times average earnings for first-time buyers everywhere except Scotland.

Mortgage lenders will traditionally lend a single person 3.5 times their income to buy a property.

In London, a single first-time buyer needs 6.84 times their income, it said.

London - 6.84 times average first-time buyer salary
South West - 6.28
South East - 5.83
East of England - 5.48
Wales - 5.31
West Midlands - 5.14
East Midlands - 5.05
North West - 4.59
Yorkshire and Humberside - 4.53
Northern Ireland - 4.57
North - 4.44
Scotland - 3.43

The average first-time buyer property in the capital costs 194,561 but salaries for single first-time home hunters average just under 30,000.

The situation is little better in the South East, the study said, with first-time buyer properties costing 5.83 times average incomes, or the South West, where the figure stands at 6.28.

A property costs more than five times a first-time buyer's earnings in the West and East Midlands.

Areas of the UK which have traditionally been more affordable for the first-time buyer are also becoming more expensive.

A first home in Wales, for example, would now cost more than five times the average first-time buyer's salary.

Only Scotland remains within easier reach, with first homes averaging 67, 293 - or 3.43 times the average first-time buyer's earnings.

A spokesman for PayFinder.com said: "Our statistics show just how hard it is to not only get on to the property ladder, but then how far salaries must stretch to stay there."

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