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Oxford named UK's least affordable city

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

Oxford named UK's least affordable city Oxford named UK's least affordable city

Home affordability in UK cities has deteriorated in the last 12 months as house prices continue to rise, according to research published today.

The Lloyds Bank Affordable Cities Review shows the average price for a city home in the UK stands at £184,215 - 5.8 times gross annual average earnings, down from 6.1 in 2009 and just under 20% below the peak of 7.2 in 2008.

But the past year has seen a deterioration in affordability. The average UK city house price has risen by just over 5%, from £175,060 in 2013 to £184,215 in 2014.

A clear north-south divide still remains. The top 15 most affordable cities for homebuyers are in Scotland, Northern Ireland or the North of England, and the next five on the list are in the Midlands or Wales. At the other end of the spectrum, the 17 least affordable cities are all in southern England, with Lichfield, Leicester and York completing the top 20.

However, the top 10 UK cities with the highest house price growth in the last decade, eight are in Scotland or the north. Scottish cities top the list, with Aberdeen (94%), Dundee (60%) and Inverness (46%) seeing the biggest changes. In England, Carlisle, Hull and Bradford all saw their house prices rise by 40% or more since 2004.

City house prices are now lower than a decade ago as a multiple of earnings, at 5.8 times gross annual average earnings compared with 5.9 in 2004. In this time, average city house prices have increased by 22%, but average earnings in these cities have increased slightly more, by 23%.

Living in the city is also more affordable than across the UK as a whole, as the UK average house price to earnings ratio stands at 5.9, compared to 5.8 in UK cities. This is driven by higher wages earned in UK cities, as house prices in UK cities are on average 7% (£12,730) higher than their respective county averages.

Stirling has overtaken Londonderry as the UK’s most affordable city, with an average property price (£132,734) that is 3.3 times gross average annual earnings. As a result of lower house prices, cities in Northern Ireland also continue to rank as among the most affordable in the UK, with Londonderry (3.56), Newry (3.90) and Belfast (4.12) following Stirling in the list. The most affordable city in England is Bradford at 4.15,

Rising property prices in the last 12 months mean that cities in southern England dominate the least affordable rankings. Oxford’s average house prices are now over 11 times (11.25) the gross average earnings in the city. At an average price of £340,864, houses in Oxford are relatively more expensive than the average earnings in the city, partly due to Oxford’s attractiveness to commuters working in London. Last year, Oxford’s affordability was 9.80.

Winchester (9.65), Truro (8.57), Bath (8.05) and Brighton and Hove (7.94) make up the top five least affordable cities. Lichfield (6.13) Leicester (6.07) and York (5.98) are the least affordable cities outside southern England.

Marc Page, Lloyds Bank mortgages director, said: "Over the last five to ten years, affordability has marginally improved in most UK cities, as increases in earnings have kept up with house price rises in that time. However, the economic and lifestyle benefits often associated with residing in cities are continuing to drive demand, especially in the south of England. With city house prices continuing to rise, affordability deteriorated slightly last year, but the trend since 2009 is positive for the majority of UK cities.”

Dan Wilson Craw, spokesman for PricedOut.org.uk, which campaigns on behalf of first time buyers, said: "Home ownership is now a distant dream to many people living and working in cities across the south - and other parts of the country. If these people are to have a chance to get on in life, house prices cannot continue to rise even further. We need planning reform to allow growing cities to build the houses they need to accommodate their workers and give us the responsive housing market we desperately need."

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