Nationwide: Kensington least affordable GB location

Oxford has remained the least affordable area in the South East, with house prices 10.1 times average earnings in the region, up from 9.2 a year ago.

Nationwide: Kensington least affordable GB location

Kensington and Chelsea has remained the least affordable local authority in London, and by extension Great Britain, with a house price to earnings ratio (HPER) of 14.7, according to Nationwide Building Society's Local Affordability Report.

 

Oxford was the least affordable area in the South East, with house prices 10.1 times average earnings in the region, up from 9.2 a year ago.

House prices in Oxford have risen 14% over the past year, one of the strongest increases in the South East.

Hertsmere in Hertfordshire continued to be the least affordable local authority in the East of England government region, with average prices 10 times average earnings.

Most authorities in the South West saw a deterioration in affordability last year, but the Cotswolds replaced Bath and North East Somerset as the least affordable area, with a house price earnings ratio of 8.6.

Rutland, the smallest historic county in England, remained the least affordable authority in the East Midlands, while in the West Midlands it was Malvern Hills.

In Yorkshire and The Humber, the district of Ryedale in North Yorkshire had the highest house price to earnings ratio, despite seeing weaker price growth over the last year than most of the region.

The least affordable area in the North West was South Lakeland in Cumbria, which includes parts of the popular Lake District national park.

In Wales, the Vale of Glamorgan replaced Cardiff as the least affordable area. Prices in the Vale, which includes Barry, rose by 17% year-on-year, reflecting a trend in Wales of stronger price growth in areas outside of the major cities.

In Scotland, Edinburgh continued to have the highest house price to earnings ratio, with house prices in the capital significantly higher than other parts of Scotland.

North Tyneside was the least affordable area within the North East, although average prices were only around four times average earnings - still relatively affordable compared to some locations.

The North East also had the smallest gap between the least and most affordable authorities.

For first-time buyers, East Ayrshire, in Scotland continued to be the most affordable authority in Great Britain, with average first-time buyer house prices just 2.4 times average earnings.

Copeland remained the most affordable area in the North West of England, despite average prices rising 11% over the last year, and in the North East, County Durham noted the lowest house price to earnings ratio at 3.1.

Merthyr Tydfil remained the most affordable local authority in Wales and Barnsley replaced North East Lincolnshire as the most affordable area in the Yorkshire and The Humber government office region.

In the West Midlands, Stoke-on-Trent continued to have the lowest house price to earnings ratio at 3.8, and in the East Midlands, the district of Bolsover remained the most affordable and also lowest priced area.

Meanwhile, on the east coast, Great Yarmouth in Norfolk continued to have the lowest house price to earnings ratio in the East of England region, despite seeing above average price growth over the last year.

Swindon remained the most affordable area in the South West, with a house price earnings ratio of 5.4, and Southampton replaced Dover as the most affordable region in the South East region, with average first-time buyer prices 5.6 times average earnings.

Bromley was the most affordable borough in London, though its house price earnings ratio of 7.4 is still higher than most local authorities across the country.

Westminster saw the biggest improvement in affordability over the period, with the average first-time buyer house price to earnings ratio falling from 18.1 to 14.3.

This was driven by a combination of lower prices (13% lower than five years ago) and higher earnings (up 10% compared with 2016).

While it is still one of the less affordable areas in the East of England, Cambridge has seen a marked improvement in affordability over the past five years, as earnings growth in the city outpaced house price growth.

In Scotland, Aberdeen saw the greatest improvement in affordability, with average first time buyer HPER declining from 4.6 to 3.4 in the last five years, predominately due to the 22% fall in prices over the period.

Overall, 25% of local authorities in Great Britain saw an improvement in affordability compared with 2016, while first-time buyer house price earnings ratios have risen in 72% of authorities, with the balance unchanged.

There has been a noticeable increase in the proportion of local authorities with higher HPERs over the last five years.

Around 45% of authorities now have an HPER of six or more, compared with 35% in 2016. Only 14% of localities now have a HPER below four, down from 22% five years ago.

Andrew Harvey, senior economist at Nationwide, said: “Our recent affordability report identified that affordability was becoming more stretched across all regions.

"However, there is also considerable variation within those regions and in this special report we explore this further.

“We’ve updated our local affordability metrics, which use house price and earnings data from the Land Registry & Office for National Statistics (ONS) to give the most comprehensive view at a local level.

“As illustrated by the chart in the attached, London has by far the greatest gap between the least and most affordable boroughs, while the North East has the smallest.

“Our data shows the least affordable local authorities, as measured by the first-time buyer house price to earnings ratio (HPER) within each government office region (using data for 2021)."

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