House prices in rural areas nearly £50,000 more expensive

Chiltern is the least affordable rural area in Britain

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The Independent Online

Homehunters pay an average premium of £46,600 for homes in rural areas compared to those in urban ones, according to figures from Halifax

The rural premium is highest in the West Midlands at £88,781 compared to £17,570 in the North East.

However, the gap between the two average prices is narrowing. Between 2009 and 2014, the average price of a home in the countryside rose by 12 per cent compared to 18 per cent in urban areas. But between 2013 and 2014, the figures were eight per cent and 10 per cent respectivelym excluding Greater London.

Copeland in Cumbria, East Ayrshire and North Lincolnshire are the most affordable rural areas in the country according to the survey. Chiltern is the least affordable rural area in Britain – measured by the house price to earnings ratio – with an average house price that is 9.5 times local gross annual average earnings. It is also the most expensive rural area in Britain with the average house price currently standing at £477,526.

First-time buyers account for 42% of all mortgage-financed purchases in rural locations, compared to just over half in urban areas. Getting on the rural property ladder is hardest for first-time buyers in southern England where they account for only a quarter of all purchases in East Dorset, Waverley,and West Dorset.

But first-time buyers account for more than half of all purchases in 10 areas across the rest of Britain and more than 60 per cent in Pendle and Gwynedd.

"These figures reflect the aspiration of many to own a property in the countryside," said Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax. "The relatively high prices, however, put rural homes out of the reach for many, particularly the young."

Properties in the country are typically more than a fifth larger than in towns and cities. The average rural home is 127m in size compared with 104m in urban areas.