First-time buyers hit by high prices

YOUNG first-time homebuyers in East Anglia face a more difficult task getting on the property ladder than people in other parts of the country, a new survey has revealed.

YOUNG first-time homebuyers in East Anglia face a more difficult task getting on the property ladder than people in other parts of the country, a new survey has revealed.

According to the startling new report many districts in the East of England are among the hardest areas outside of London to get a foothold on the property ladder.

People aged in their 20s and 30s and key workers such as nurses, teacher and police officers are amongst those finding it hardest to buy there first home, according to the report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The in-depth report by Professor Steve Wilcox of the University of York has compared asking prices for modest four and five-bedroom homes with the average income of younger working households in each district of England.

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The results of the survey, carried out in 2002, have proved worrying for young buyers in parts of Suffolk, Essex and South Cambridgeshire who face an almost possible task to purchase their first property.

The situation is now even worse because house price have increased since the survey.

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In Suffolk those living in the Forest Heath area and Mid Suffolk districts are amongst the hardest hit because the average income is not enough to meet the current house prices.

At the time of the survey, the average price for a modest four to five bedroom property was £105,109 in Forest Heath, but the average household income is just £23,424 and in Mid Suffolk the house prices were £105,424, compared to household incomes of £26,695.

The situation was not as bad in Ipswich and the Waveney district, but even in those areas affording a first home is difficult. In Ipswich the same size property was £87,948 and the average household income was £29,356, and the ratio in Waveney was £87,189 to £24,172.

Statistics also showed that 35.5% of families in Suffolk with two working adults could not even afford to buy a home in the lowest 25% of the current house market, that figure rose to more than 48% in the Babergh district and 38.8% in St Emundsbury.

The situation was even worse in parts of Essex, where 39.2% of families with two working adults could not reach the asking price for the cheaper properties. The figure increased to 52.3% in Chelmsford and 40.4% in Braintree, but fell to 37.1% in Colchester.

The picture was worse still in South Cambridgeshire where 57.3% of families with two working families were unable to afford to get onto the housing ladder.

One of the most startling statistics to be revealed is that there are only seven districts in the East of England where a key worker, such as a teacher with four years experience, could afford to buy a cheap starter home on their own. These districts include Ipswich, Waveney and the Fenland in Cambridgeshire.

Professor Wilcox said: "These figures provide startling evidence of how the housing affordability crisis affects young people and key workers in a swathe of eastern England. The house boom along the M11 corridor means that most modest properties are often beyond the reach of working households."

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