Page last updated at 00:04 GMT, Sunday, 3 January 2010

'More areas' affordable for first-time buyers

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First-time buyers are most likely to buy terraced houses

Property is now affordable for first-time buyers in nearly four out of 10 areas of the UK, research indicates.

Someone on average earnings could now afford the average first-time buyer property in 39% of local authority districts, the Halifax bank said.

In 2007, the year in which house prices peaked, homes in only 6% of areas were affordable for average earners.

The improved affordability has come about through a combination of lower interest rates and house price falls.

However many first-time buyers have been unable to take advantage of the situation because of tighter lending criteria imposed by banks and building societies.

London problems persist

For most of 2009, the average person buying their first home with a mortgage put down a deposit of 25%, figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: "Mortgage payments in relation to earnings are currently significantly below the average during the past 25 years.

"The tightening in lending criteria over the past two years is, however, making it very difficult for some to take advantage of lower property prices and mortgage rates."

The largest increase in the proportion of local authority areas where homes are now affordable for first-time buyers is in north-east England.

But in both London and Northern Ireland, the average first-time buyer property remains unaffordable for someone on average earnings in all local authority areas.

The average price of a property bought by a first-time buyer was £133,794 during 2009 - 10% lower than in 2008.

And first-time buyers borrowed an average of about £104,000 in 2009, putting down a deposit of £29,439.


Your comments

We have just been agreed a first time buyers mortgage by the Halifax, however we only have a 10% deposit so our interest payments are 6.99% fixed for two years. It took us 10 months to find a suitable property and have managed to find a small one bed flat, next to the train line in Balham, London. There is a such a push towards ex local authority and purpose-built blocks in London that we found there was a very limited choice in converted house flats. Fingers crossed it'll all complete, but no one mentions the average £5k moving costs you have to find as a first time buyer. We've been fortunate to have parental help for the deposit, but saving for the moving costs when salaries have not grown has been tough!
John, London, UK

Yes, I am a first time (wishful) buyer and I don't believe a word of mortgage lenders' statistics. "Improved affordability"? Yes, in all the places where a first time buyer cannot find a job. I suppose the alleged first time buyers bought themselves a garage for £133k.
Adrian Just, Cambridge, UK

My family can only just afford to survive and couldn't possibly dream of saving up for a 25% deposit. We started saving a few years ago but recent increases in fuel bills, council tax etc. have eaten up our savings and we now live hand to mouth.
Rob Castley, Neath, UK

My girlfriend and I are on a combined income of £42k a year, well above average, but we have no savings. We can easily afford a property but have to make do with the rental market as we don't have £25k to put down. Because of the ever increasing costs of energy bills and insurances these days, we cannot put money away quick enough to get that sort of deposit together. We need a fairer system that caters for people who can comfortably afford mortgage payments but don't have huge savings accounts or rich family members to help out. How is this fair?
Graham Saunders, Crewe, UK



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