The homes out of reach for first-time buyers

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The Independent Online

By Sophie Goodchild and Lauren Veevers

Record numbers of young career people are being priced out of the property market, with more than two in five households not earning enough to afford even the cheapest home in some areas.

Figures published today reveal that the number of hot spots where 20- to 39-year-olds have been priced out of the market has more than doubled in a year.

The gap between incomes and the prices of first homes is greatest in the areas covered by north Norfolk, north Cornwall, and Kensington & Chelsea councils.

Ryedale, in North Yorkshire, is one of the top three councils in the country where the cost of buying a two- to three-bedroom house is more than five times the income of young people earning a salary. On average, a house there costs £172,000, but the average income for a working household is £25,976 a year.

Professor Steve Wilcox, who carried out the study for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, warned that more than a quarter of a million young couples and single people are now being frozen out of the market every year.

"It is worse than it has ever been and the most acute affordability problems are in the South-west, not the South-east," said Professor Wilcox from the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York. "This is because of the demand for holiday homes - which has driven up prices - and because folk are retiring there."

The report's findings are based on an analysis of house prices in more than 300 local authority areas last year.

The crisis over house prices has meant that some young couples have decided to invest abroad, where mortgages are more affordable, or to move to cheaper areas.

CASE STUDY

Alex Meltzer, 23, and Chris Gurney, 26, have been looking for a property in Brighton for the past three months. Despite earning £40-£45,000 between them and having money saved for a deposit, they are still struggling to get on to the property ladder. "Our budget is about £180,000 and that's just for a one-bedroom flat," said Alex, below. "But we are still finding it hard to find somewhere that is near the train station so I can commute to London. As first-time buyers we feel like we are being treated like children in a sweet shop. All we want to do is find a home."

Average price of a first home across the UK

Chelsea, west London - £695,000

WHAT YOU GET: Two-bed flat in a mansion block, shared garden

Bude, north Cornwall - £179,950

WHAT YOU GET: Three-bed house with lounge, kitchen, bathroom and garage

Ryedale, North Yorks - £170,000

WHAT YOU GET: Three-bed, Grade II-listed leasehold house in Pickering

North Norfolk - £154,950

WHAT YOU GET: Two-bed bungalow, semi-detached, garage, back garden

Carmarthen, Wales - £130,000

WHAT YOU GET: Two-bed, mid-terrace, large garden and summer house at rear

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