Ribble Valley among the most affordable areas as wages outpace house prices

Ribble Valley has seen the most significant improvement in homeownership affordability over the last decade, according to a new study by Getamover.co.uk.

The analysis, based on data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), examined the ratio of median house prices to median annual earnings in each English local authority between 2013 and 2023.

The study identified the regions where the house price-to-income ratio has decreased the most, highlighting areas with the greatest improvements in homeownership affordability.

On average, house prices in England have risen by £103,000 over the past decade, while annual wages have increased by £7,734.

This has led to an overall increase in the house price-to-earnings ratio by 21.73%, meaning the average home now costs more than eight times the average yearly earnings. London remains the most unaffordable region, with a ratio of 11.95.

Conversely, the East Midlands has experienced the largest decline in affordability, with its ratio rising by 35.58% to 7.43.

The North East stands out as the only region where wages have outpaced house price growth, with home prices rising by £33,000 and annual wages increasing by £7,087, making homeownership more affordable there than a decade ago.

Ribble Valley in Lancashire topped the study, with wages rising almost twice as fast as house prices and the house price-to-income ratio falling by 17.89%.

While the average price for an existing dwelling rose by £69,500 in Ribble Valley, the median annual earnings increased by £17,156.

Fylde, another area in Lancashire, ranked second. The average house price in Fylde increased by £69,500 over the last decade to £229,500, while the median annual income rose by £16,342.

This led to a 14.59% drop in the house price-to-income ratio.

Tandridge secured the third spot, with its house price-to-income ratio decreasing by 10.87%.

Despite house prices rising by 66.67% to £500,000, the median annual earnings grew by 86.86% to £40,374.

Darlington was fourth, seeing its ratio drop by 10.19% from 5.4 to 4.85.

Average house prices in Darlington rose by £35,000 to £150,000, while median earnings increased by £9,640.

Blackpool completed the top five, with a 7.45% decrease in the house price-to-income ratio. The average house price increased by £38,500, and the median annual income grew by £10,458.

West Lancashire ranked sixth, with house prices rising by 42.29% to £223,750 and median annual income increasing by 51.27% to £35,188, resulting in a 5.92% decrease in the ratio.

Wyre Forest also featured in the list of areas with improved affordability.

The average house price rose from £145,000 in 2013 to £235,000 in 2023, while median annual income increased from £18,898 to £32,334, reducing the ratio by 5.22%.

Westminster saw the eighth largest decline in the house price-to-income ratio, falling by 4.32%.

The average house price rose by £201,500, while median annual earnings increased by £12,497.

In 2023, the average cost of an existing dwelling in Westminster was 18.61 times the median yearly income, the second highest in England after Kensington and Chelsea.

Hartlepool ranked ninth, with a 3.5% decrease in the house price-to-income ratio. House prices in Hartlepool increased by £16,000, while median annual earnings rose by £5,164.

Middlesbrough rounded out the study, with a 2.6% decrease in the house price-to-income ratio.

Median earnings rose by £7,466, and the average house price increased by £28,000, making the average home now worth 4.12 times the median annual salary in the area.

David Burrows, head of Getamover.co.uk, said: “Approximately 303 local authorities across England have seen house prices rise at a higher rate than wages over the last decade, with the affordability of buying a home falling significantly in four London boroughs. 

“This study shines a spotlight on the areas in which housing affordability shows some signs of improvement.

“Lancashire is home to four different local authorities which featured in the study. With house prices falling at the start of 2024, it will be interesting to see whether purchasing a home becomes more of a possibility for aspiring homeowners across England over the next decade.”