Buying a home gets further out of reach, now 11 times annual salary

Flats Tom Gowanlock shutterstock_134424665-1-2

Photo: Tom Gowanlock ┃Shutterstock.com

The cost of a home in London has risen to 11 times the annual salary. This startling statistic is revealed in the data on earnings and house prices from the Office of National Statistics.

Each April the ONS does a survey on earnings and it has just released this date revealing that the median weekly pay in London was £660 or £34,320 annually. The median is the mid point, thus avoiding the distortion of the high and low numbers in calculating an average.

Data from the Land Registry shows that the median house price in London for the same period was £379,000 or 11 times earnings.

Someone earning the median wage who had managed to save perhaps £20,000 as a deposit and then took out a maximum 4.5 times salary mortgage would still only have raised 46% of the cost of the median property. It is hardly surprising therefore that the proportion of homes bought with a mortgage is falling. As reported by Urbs, cash buyers are becoming the dominant group in some areas of central London. They are mostly older people who have sold a more expensive property, or overseas investors.

The ratio of earnings to house prices has been on a steadily upward path since the late 90s, apart from a small dip following the financial crisis of 2008. In 1997 the median house cost 4 times the median salary. That ratio has since more than doubled across the country, and nearly trebled in London.

house to earnings timeline

In some parts of London the figures are even more eye-watering.  A median price home in Wandsworth costs 17 times the median earnings of someone living in the borough. In Westminster it is 22 times and in Kensington and Chelsea the median house price is 38 times salary.

house to earnings map

The data for the rest of the country helps explain why so many people choose to move out of London. In the South East generally the ratio is 9 times earnings. That’s lower than all but the 3 London boroughs on the eastern edge of the city, Havering, Barking and Dagenham and Bexley. In the North East of England a home is just under 5 times annual salary, a ratio not seen in London since the late 90s.

house to earnings national

These ratios mean that buying a property will remain out of reach for many in the capital. The much talked about ‘generation rent’ looks like it’s here to stay.

Source data

See also

What would you do with £1.6 million in cash? Buy a house, of course

The jobs success and housing failure causing a crisis for the capital

Why the London property market is heading back to the 1970s