The past year has seen a deterioration in affordability in UK cities, driven by rising house prices across the country, with Oxford names as the least affordable.
Stirling in the most affordable and Aberdeen as seen the highest house price growth since 2005, according to the latest Lloyds Bank Affordable Cities Review.
The average UK city house price has risen by 7%, from £181,667 in 2014 to £195,107 in 2015 and this has resulted in affordability in the nation’s cities worsening in the last 12 months from 5.8 to 6.1 times gross average annual earnings, the second successive annual decline in affordability.
Affordability in UK cities is, on average, now at the same level as in 2009 but is 15% lower than the peak of 7.2 times earnings in 2008 at the height of the last housing market boom.
The overall improvement in affordability across UK cities as a whole over the past seven years has been caused by a combination of an average house price decline of 6% and an increase in the gross average annual earnings in UK cities of 11%.
Oxford’s average house price is 11 times the gross average earnings in the city. At an average price of £361,469, houses in Oxford are more expensive compared with local average earnings than any other UK city. This is partly due to Oxford’s attractiveness to commuters working in London.
Winchester at 10.11, Cambridge at 9.76, Chichester at 9.19 and Brighton and Hove at 9.10 make up the top five least affordable cities. Greater London is not far behind with average property prices 8.75 times average gross annual earnings. This average figure disguises considerable variations across the capital with central boroughs being significantly less affordable than the Greater London average.
The data also shows that Lichfield at 6.95, York at 6.83 and Leicester at 6.54 are the least affordable cities outside southern England.
Stirling remains the UK’s most affordable city despite a deterioration in affordability over the past year. The average property price in the Scottish city of £158,645 is 3.9 times gross average annual earnings.
Four of the 10 most affordable UK cities are in Northern Ireland due primarily to the relatively low house prices in the country with Londonderry at 3.92, Belfast at 4.49, Newry at 4.51 and Lisburn at 4.63. The most affordable cities in England are Lancaster at 4.03 and Bradford at 4.17.
‘House price rises in the past two years have resulted in a deterioration in home affordability in the majority of UK cities, and generally widening the north/south affordability divide as the market has been strongest in the south,’ said Andy Hulme, Lloyds Bank mortgages director.
‘The UK’s most successful cities economically have tended to see the strongest property price rises. Aberdeen, the country’s oil and gas capital, has recorded the biggest gains over the past decade whilst London has been the top performer during the economic recovery,’ he added.
An analysis reveals a significant north/south divide in city affordability among UK cities. Some 17 of the 20 least affordable cities are in southern England with Lichfield, Leicester and York completing the top 20. At the other end of the spectrum, 19 of the 20 most affordable cities for home buyers are outside southern England with the exception being Ely in East Anglia.
Aberdeen has recorded the biggest price rise of any UK city over the past decade with a gain of 88% as a result of rising housing demand due to the strong performance of the oil and gas sector over most of the period. Cambridge at 55% and Brighton and Hove at 52% saw the largest increases in England.
More recently, London has recorded the highest house price growth with a rise of 40% during the past five years followed by Winchester at 39% and Cambridge at 37%. Some nine of the 10 top performers since 2010 are in southern England with the exception being Durham at 25%.