Property Portal Zoopla reveals the most affordable areas for buyers in Britain ..
The property market was central to last week’s Budget with the Chancellor announcing measures designed to improve affordability and unlock access to homeownership for more people. To coincide with this Zoopla, the UK’s most comprehensive property destination, has revealed the most affordable towns and cities for buyers in Britain, along with what areas of the country have seen the biggest improvements in their affordability.
To calculate which areas are the most affordable, Zoopla analysed house price-to-earnings ratios, based on a two-earner household on the average salary for the local area.
Britain’s most affordable towns clustered around Scotland and the North West
The top five most affordable towns in Britain are all clustered around Scotland and the North West. The quaint town of Shildon in County Durham takes the crown yet again, with an average house price of £59,468 and price to earnings ratio of 1.1. Ferryhill, also in County Durham, ranks in seventh place with a median house price of £72,264 and price to earnings ratio of 1.35, with lower house prices and the dominance of terraced housing driving affordability.
In Scotland, towns in historic Ayrshire dominate with Kilbirnie and Cumnock ranking in third and fourth place respectively, and Stevenston, Irvine and Girvan all featuring in the top ten. Scotland’s affordability is linked to two key factors; strong earnings locally and more reasonably priced property, with average house prices in all of these towns below £65,000.
Likewise, buyers in Cleator Moor and Egremont in Cumbria also benefit from high levels of affordability. With Cleator Moor located on the 190 miles Coast to Coast Walk that spans Northern England and Egremont located at the edge of the Lake District National Park, both areas have a lot to offer home hunters searching for a rural idyll.
Improving affordability in pockets across Britain
It’s good news for many buyers across Britain, with affordability improving in pockets across all regions. Affordability has improved the most in Cleator Moor and Egremont (which also feature in the top ten most affordable list). This is also the case in Whitehaven (average house price of £122,685 and price to earnings ratio of 1.48) and Millom (average house price of £121,565 and a price to earnings ratio of 1.47) in the North West. Earnings growth is underpinned by its robust manufacturing sector and the Sellafield nuclear power station, a major employer in the area.
For those on the hunt for a property near an Area of Outstanding Beauty, but at a more affordable price, the spa town of Malvern, located at the foot of the spectacular Malvern Hills has also seen an increase in its affordability. Average house prices stand at £265,710, while the price to earnings ratio is 3.73, down from 4.14.
In Southern England, Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire has seen the biggest improvement in affordability with average house prices of £396,623 and a price to earnings ratio of 5.13. With substantially lower house prices than London and direct trains to London Liverpool Street in just 40 minutes, Hoddesdon could be an attractive location for commuters looking to get more for their money. Nearby Waltham Cross has also seen improvements in affordability and is slightly more expensive with average house prices of £408,358 and a price to earnings ratio of 5.28, down from 5.70.
Areas in North Devon also feature strongly, with Bideford and Torrington both featuring in the top ten list for improved affordability. For those looking for a home near the coast, the historic harbour town of Bideford could be an attractive option with its independent shops and picturesque quay. The town has an average house price of £238,116 and price to earnings ratio of 5.28.
Although city locations are often associated with higher house prices, Britain’s largest cities all have areas with greater affordability. In London, the house price to earnings ratio is most favourable in Barking and Dagenham (5.4), Bexley (5.5) and Tower Hamlets (5.68). In these boroughs, the average cost of a home is below 5.7 times the annual salary for a two-earner household’s average salary, making these boroughs among some of the most affordable in London.
In Greater Manchester, Coldhurst in Oldham is the most affordable, with average house prices of £104,416, and a price to earnings ratio of 2.01, while Lozells is the most affordable area in Birmingham. The average house price in the area is £141,431, while there’s a price to earnings ratio of 2.5.
Grainne Gilmore, Head of Research at Zoopla, said: “This data shows where buyers can benefit from some of the most affordable markets across the country, especially movers who have built up some equity in their current home. Capital values in the north of England and Scotland are relatively lower than in the South of England, meaning that many of the most affordable areas are clustered in these regions”.