We look at which regions are best for first time buyers.  Owning a home is still a challenge for many first-time buyers. Housing affordability did not get better last year eve as property prices slumped.

Between 2017 and 2018 it cost 7.8 times an average workers earnings to purchase a house in England and Wales, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).  This is the same as the year before.

Its affordability ratio is based on house prices in a given area divided by the average income of local residents.

The north east of England remains the cheapest place to buy.  House prices cost five times average earnings.  London’s property market remains the most expensive.  Average houses cost 13 times annual earnings.

The starkest contrast in affordability can be seen in Copeland in western Cumbria, and the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea.  Houses here cost 2.5 times and 44.5 times annual earnings, respectively. This is a record gap.

London was the only region in England and Wales to become more affordable for property buyers between 2017 and last year.  This marks a reversal of the long-term trend of worsening affordability in the capital over the past two decades.  The property market slump has made homes just 1pc more affordable for buyers in the capital, according to the ONS.

Separate official figures show annual prices in the capital dipped 1.6pc in January – the fastest rate of decline since 2009.   First-time buyers in the capital will continue to struggle to get a foot on the ladder given the average house price of £472,000 – more than double the UK average of £228,000.

House prices in trendy Hackney and Camden are more than 15 and 19 times greater than average wages. Housing in Hartlepool and Sunderland costs just four times average earnings.  Despite this home ownership last year rose from 62.6pc in 2017 to 63.5pc last year.  The number of people owning their own home with a mortgage rose by 5pc over the year to 6.9 million.  This is still a fifth lower than the peak recorded in 2000.

It looks like a better time to become an first time buyer with:-

  • record low mortgage rates,
  • no stamp duty on homes under £300,000, and
  • government funding schemes such as Help to Buy, which will run until 2023.  This offers buyers a 20pc loan – or 40pc in London – to put towards a property.