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Jun 19

According to the latest research from Zoopla, the average income required for a first time buyer to purchase a home has grown 9% since 2016.

According to the figures, this now stands at an average of £54,400, over £4,500 more than the amount needed three years ago. The average deposit currently required for first time buyers to purchase in one of these cities is currently £38,418.

Affordability increases in London, Oxford and Cambridge

The income required for first time buyers to purchase in the three most expensive UK Cities has fallen by an average of -5% since 2016.

First time buyers looking to buy their first home in London need an average income of £84,000, this is £3,250 less than the amount needed in 2016 which was a high point since the global financial crisis. This follows three years of weak growth and small price falls in the capital, where prices are now beginning to stabilise.

Cambridge and Oxford require the highest incomes of anywhere outside of London, however the income needed to purchase has fallen in the university cities by -5% and -3% respectively.

Aberdeen registered the largest percentage decrease in the income required to buy of all the UK Cities, this is a result of sharp price decreases in the city following the crash in oil prices since 2015.

Average income to buy ranges from £26k to £84k

The average income to buy a typical property ranges from £26,137 in Liverpool to £84,000 in London – a spread of over £57,800 which highlights the different challenges facing first time buyers looking to purchase their first home. Liverpool registered the highest house price growth of all 20 UK Cities analysed despite being the most affordable market for first time buyers to enter.

Deposit levels have increased since the global financial crisis – the average first time buyer deposit ranges from £119,000 in London to £18,449 in Liverpool. For the latest data, we assume a 15% deposit in regional cities and 25% in London, Oxford and Cambridge. The larger deposits for high value cities allow for the impact of loan to income limits. We assume the borrower can only take a mortgage that is up to 4x their income. In the highest value cities this means buyers must either buy a cheaper property or find a larger deposit.

The income to buy at a city level has grown fastest in markets where prices have been rising quickly. Leicester has seen the largest percentage increase in the income required to purchase since 2016, at 20%, followed closely by Birmingham and Manchester. Each of these cities have seen house price growth totalling 18% over the last three years.

Weaker city house price growth

Overall, house prices in UK Cities increased by 1.8% over the 12 months to May 2019. Price growth ranged from 5.0% in Liverpool to -4.2% in Aberdeen. Only three of the UK Cities (London, Cambridge and Aberdeen) registered average house price decreases, with price falls in London at -0.4%.

Richard Donnell, Research and Insight Director at Zoopla, comments: “Weakening city house price growth is a result of market fundamentals. Specifically, changing affordability dynamics for home buyers and the impact of successive tax changes since 2015. Together, these have impacted household buying power, and demand for housing, hitting high priced cities more than others.

First time buyers are an important group accounting for more than one in three sales. While the average household income to buy a typical home across UK cities has grown 9% since 2016, weaker price growth and recent price falls have led to a 5% reduction in the income to buy across the most expensive cities. It will come as a modest relief for would-be buyers although the income to purchase still remains relatively high. While it is a factor behind weaker house price growth it supports underlying demand for rental homes.

Affordability remains attractive in many regional cities where house prices have not registered the gains seen in south eastern England. Liverpool has the lowest income required to buy and has the highest rate of price growth at 5%. We expect prices to continue to increase in cities where housing is in reach of those on average incomes.”

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