House prices: Survey gloom

HOUSE prices in Suffolk are nearly 10 times the average salary, according to a new survey.

And in some parts of the county the relative cost of buying a home is even higher – just as the increase in new social homes is coming to a halt.

Figures from the National Housing Federation – which represents housing associations and social landlords – paint a bleak picture of the situation across East Anglia.

The cost of the average home in Suffolk is �185,000 according to the figures, but the average wage is just �19,297.

Most mortgage lenders will now lend 3.5times salary to home purchases – meaning that someone seeking to buy an average home now need to earn nearly �48,000 – and have a deposit of �18,500.

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The report shows that one in 16 households across the region are on waiting lists for social housing – but the recession has meant the number of new social homes being built has dropped alarmingly.

Claire Astbury, regional manager for the National Housing Federation in the East of England, said: “Once again we are publishing a report that shows house prices still remain unaffordable for too many, particularly given the level of deposit now required for a home.

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“We understand the need to get the budget deficit down. But we must avoid the wrong cuts, in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Government must maintain housing investment in the east of England.

“An entire generation could be locked out of the housing market in the East of England for the foreseeable future and people will increasingly look to the affordable housing sector for assistance.”

Sunila Osborne, of Suffolk Acre, said the organisation was trying to encourage small-scale social housing schemes to ensure there were affordable homes in the county’s villages.

She said: “We need to do as much as we can to ensure that people can continue to live and work in their own communities. These homes are aimed firmly at local people who would otherwise be unable to stay in their home area.”

The report shows that Ipswich is the most “affordable” borough in the region with average house prices running at 7.4 times average salaries.

That is largely because the town has a larger proportion of smaller homes which brings the average house price down to �135,000.

Borough council leader Liz Harsant said the situation was bleak for many people hoping to set up their own home.

She said: “I know the figures look very grim but I really cannot see any way around this, certainly not until we get out of recession.

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