Landlords putting the brakes on rent rises

Modern flats

The rise in London rental prices is slowing down.

In a bit of good news for tenants and bad news for private landlords, figures from the Office for National Statistics show that rents in London are now rising slower than the average for the rest of England.

In the 12 month to the March this year rents in the capital had gone up by 1.6% compared to 2.4% across the rest of England, according to data from the ONS Index of Private Housing Rental Prices. This is in line with a trend in the year-on-year figures since November last year when London slipped behind average rise for the rest of country.

Before August 2015,  London rental prices were rising much faster than elsewhere.

rent rise march 2017

A regional breakdown of the data shows that the 1.6% rate of increase in London is the same as Yorkshire and Humberside. Rents in five other regions of the England are now climbing faster than the capital.  This includes the East and West Midlands, East of England, the South West and the South East. The increase in the South East over the period was 3.4%.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) says that the demand for rental property across the country remains steady but the number of new landlords instructing letting agents is down for the sixth month in a row.  This may increase pressure on prices, but RICS says that London is the exception to this. In its most recent monthly survey of the residential property market  it says that rents will continue to ‘soften’ in coming months and then remain broadly static for the year ahead.

While that may be a welcome forecast for more than a quarter of Londoners who rent their homes from private landlords, the amount they pay each month is still more than double the average for the rest of the UK.

Source data

See also

What you need to know about renting in London

Families face the biggest premiums for renting homes in the capital

More “affordable” homes but the rents prove unaffordable for many

Ratio reveals the most affordable place to buy a home

terrace on hil-2The most affordable borough to buy a home in London is Barking and Dagenham.  A house in this area in the east of London costs a fraction more than seven times local annual earnings.

Barking and Dagenham is the only borough in London with a ratio that is below the average for England. Across England the median house price is 7.49 times the salary for a full time job.

The ratio is calculated by the Department of Communities and Local Government using median house prices rather than the average to avoid distortion due to highs and lows.  These are then compared to median wages locally.

According to this calculation the most affordable boroughs other than Barking and Dagenham are mostly in Outer London.   The median house price is less than 10 times salary in Bexley, Havering, Croydon and Hounslow, and in the Inner London borough of Tower Hamlets.

The least affordable places are central and west London boroughs including Wandsworth, Richmond, Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster. But at the top of the scale is Kensington and Chelsea, where the median house price was nearly 40 times the median salary in 2015.

Since the start of the century the ratio in the royal borough has gone up by 178%.  And a similar dramatic change, from lower levels, has happened in Hackney and Waltham Forest, where the ratio has gone from around five times salary to 15 and 13 respectively since 2000.

The change from 2014 to 2015, the most recent years recorded, was highest in Redbridge where the ratio changed by 17% from a little over 10 times salary to just over 12.

In Kensington and Chelsea, the ratio actually fell by 6%, and in Westminster it came down by 1%.

Median House Price to Earnings Ratio 2015
Kensington and Chelsea 39.67
Westminster 24.16
Hammersmith and Fulham 22.33
Camden 19.46
Richmond upon Thames 18.07
Wandsworth 17.68
City of London 17.11
Islington 16.32
Hackney 15.23
Harrow 14.71
Barnet 14.28
Merton 14.27
Ealing 14.25
Haringey 14.11
Kingston upon Thames 13.83
Brent 13.67
Lambeth 13.08
Waltham Forest 13.02
Southwark 12.85
Bromley 12.42
Redbridge 12.21
Enfield 11.64
Lewisham 11.15
Sutton 10.90
Greenwich 10.75
Hillingdon 10.29
Newham 10.12
Hounslow 9.88
Croydon 9.83
Havering 9.78
Bexley 9.41
Tower Hamlets 9.00
Barking and Dagenham 7.19

Source data

See also

More “affordable” homes but the rents prove unaffordable for many

The homes affordability crisis

The Housing Shortage

 

 

Single mothers in London are biggest group hit by benefits cap

children legs

Single parents have been the hardest hit since the benefits cap was introduced two years ago. More than 20,000 in London have had their weekly benefits cut.

The impact on lone parents has been felt more in London, where 62% of capped households are single parents, compared with 56% across the country. Nine out of ten lone parents are women.

Single parent households capped-2

The benefits cap was introduced in April 2013.  It limits the total weekly support to £500 for a couples, with or without children, and single parents. For individuals without a child it is £350. The weekly allowance includes income support, jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit and child benefit.

Many regions of the country have higher rates of people claiming out of work benefits than London yet 45% of the households capped over the last 2 years have been in capital. The benefits bill in London is pushed up by housing benefits claims that result from high rental costs.  90% of the families with two or three children that have been capped are in London. Elsewhere in the country it is easier for a family of this size to rent a home without housing benefit.  Outside London it is mostly larger families, with four children or more who are losing benefits.

The majority of households capped in London lost £50 or under from their weekly benefits but 119 have had £400 or more taken out of their claim.  Most of these were in Brent and Ealing, the two boroughs that saw most households capped.  The fewest capped households are in the more affluent areas in the south west of the city.

Benefits cap map-2

More families are likely to see their benefits cut this autumn when the cap is lowered. Currently a family can claim up to £26,000 a year. This will be reduced to just under £23,000 or £442 per week.

Source data

See also

 

Elderly show wealth divide – 75,000 not claiming pension, more rely on benefits

Families face the biggest premiums for renting homes in the capital

More “affordable” homes but the rents prove unaffordable for many

 

Mayoral Election Issues: The homes affordability crisis

Flats Tom Gowanlockshutterstock_134424665-1-2-1-2-2

Photo: Tom Gowan ┃Shutterstock

London may like to see itself as a forward looking and progressive city but when it comes to property it is heading back to the 70s. Owning your own home is a long-held aspiration for millions of people that was realised in the property booms of the 80s and 90s, assisted by the Right to Buy scheme where tenants were allowed to purchase their council-provided property.

But the data on property tenure across London reveals that trend is being rapidly reversed and the pattern of ownership, private rental, and social housing now resemble London in the 70s.

After climbing to its peak in the 90s owner-occupation had fallen to 50% by 2011.   For the majority of younger Londoners, buying a home is no longer an option and those in their 30s appear resigned to belonging to what has been labelled “generation rent”.  In 1990 nearly 60% of people aged 25-34 owned their own home, by the end of 2014 that had dropped to 26%[1].

For those under 25 the picture is even starker.  Just 6% of this age group own their own property. In 1990 it was nearly a quarter of them.

The data shows that the only group where home ownership is climbing is the over 65s.  These people mostly own their own home outright, having paid off their mortgage.

Property ownership by age

The proportion of homes owned outright now exceeds those owned with a mortgage across England and Wales according to the English Housing Survey carried out by the Department for Communities and Local Government[2].  According to the figures collected in 2014/15, 33% of homes in England are mortgage free compared to 30% households that are still paying the mortgage.  61% of those who own their home outright are over 65.  London is the only place where this tipping point is yet to be reached and mortgaged homes (27%) still outnumber wholly owned ones (23%), but the gap is closing as the number of properties owned with mortgage falls.

The problem for young Londoners seeking a mortgage is not just one of meeting the monthly payments but in raising the funds in the first place.  The median property price in the capital is now 11 times average earnings, compared to 7 times across England.

The price to earnings ratio is at the national average in Barking but in Wandsworth it is 17 times earnings, in Hackney nearly 15 and in Kensington and Chelsea 38 times earnings[3].

house to earnings map

This situation is worsening more rapidly in London than elsewhere in the UK.  In 1997 the median house cost 4 times the median salary. That ratio has since more than doubled across the country, but nearly tripled in London.

The reduction in home ownership in London, particularly for under 35s has fuelled the growth in the private rental sector.  The most recent English Housing Survey revealed that 1 in 4 of the private rented houses in England are in the capital and the private rented sector increased from 14% to 30% in the 10 years between 2004 and 2014-15[4].

As the population of the capital grows, demand is outstripping supply and the affordability of rent has become a problem for people who were already priced out of the ability to buy a property.

For these people, rent takes up a very large proportion of their income. The English Housing Survey revealed that London households were paying 72% of their gross income in rent. This was reduced to 60% when housing benefit was included. By comparison, rent accounts for 52% of income for households across England.

The plight for young people under 24 was worse. The survey found that they were handing over 88% of their income in housing costs when benefits are excluded.

The latest data from the Valuation Agency Office[5], a body that advises the government on property prices, shows the high level of London premiums in the private rental sector.

We looked at median prices to iron out the highs and lows that affect averages.  The proportion of the price difference between London and the rest of England is biggest for 2 and 3 bedroom houses – the types of property that families need.

Median monthly rental
London England
Room only £550 £350
Studio £875 £500
1 Bedroom £1,200 £540
2 Bedroom £1,450 £595
3 Bedroom £1,750 £695
4+ Bedroom £2,700 £1,200

Across London there are distinct variations with the highest median rate for all properties in Westminster, and only 4 boroughs – Sutton, Havering, Barking and Dagenham and Bexley, where it is below £1,000.

Rental all prop map

The rise in rents seems relentless. Data from the ONS’s Index of Private Housing Rental Prices, a quarterly index that tracks the prices paid for renting from private landlords shows a 4% rise in Feb 2016[6] compared to the same period last year. Over a 10-year period prices in London have risen by 35% compared to 17% for the rest of England.

Faced with high costs in the private sector there has been a growing demand for Londoners for rental property at an affordable price.  Previously this fell into the category of social housing – property provided by a council or a housing association with long, secure tenancies and rents at around 50% of the market rates.

In 2010 the government introduced a new category, which it confusingly called Affordable Rent.  This aimed to give social landlords a route to maintaining or increasing the amount of lower cost rental while relying less on public funding. It allows them to charge more and have less restrictive tenancies.  Affordable Rent properties can charge up to 80% of the market rate.

The problem for London is that for many, Affordable Rents are not affordable.  Let’s look at the numbers if we apply the social and affordable rent rules to the median monthly market rates we saw above from the VOA.

Market Rate Affordable Rent (80%) Social Rent (50%)
1 Bedroom £1,155 £924 £577.50
2 Bedroom £1,400 £1,120 £700
3 Bedroom £1,695 £1,356 £847.50
4 Bedroom + £2,500 £2,000 £1,250

A family that needs a 3 or 4-bedroom house would require a substantial income to afford an Affordable Rent and in many areas of central London the cost will be much higher.

Some families may be able to claim Housing Benefit to bridge the gap but the Benefit Cap introduced in 2013 means that the total claim for all benefits for a family is £500 a week – the amount needed just for rent of a 4-bedroom house in these calculations.

Increasing the supply of housing is one key to solving the affordability crisis. All mayoral candidates in the election are promising to do this but after years in which house-building failed to keep pace with demand this will be a mammoth task.

See also

Mayoral Election Issues: The Housing Shortage

Source data

[1] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-london

[2]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/501065/EHS_Headline_report_2014-15.pdf

[3] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/ratio-house-prices-earnings-borough/resource/122ea18a-cb44-466e-a314-e0c62a32529e

[4]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/501065/EHS_Headline_report_2014-15.pdf

[6] http://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/bulletins/indexofprivatehousingrentalprices/february2016

This report was produced in association with London Live’s special election programme, London Votes.

Mayoral Election Issues: The Housing Shortage

roofer colourThe population is 8.6 million and the city is struggling with a shortage of housing.  Sounds familiar?  While this describes London today it also portrays the capital in the late 1930s.

After a post-war decline, the population has just got back to the 30s peak and a housing crisis has come back too.  So what has happened to house building in the intervening years? How did London find itself with a similar problem?

First, a bit of urban history. The shape of the capital has changed. In 1939 far more people lived in central London – 4.4 million lived in inner boroughs while 4.1 lived in outer ones[1].  The most highly populated areas were Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Lambeth, and can be seen as the darker areas on the map.

House bulding map 1-2

By 2015, the population of inner boroughs had fallen by 1 million while the outer boroughs have swelled by 24% to 5.1 million.  The most highly populated areas today are Barnet, Croydon and Ealing.

House building map 2-2

This switch in population from inner to outer came about because of house building.  The population surge of the 30s was met with a surge in building, and most of it took place in outer areas[2].

House building chart 3-2

This lure of new housing in the suburbs and the loss of central London housing in the Blitz helped reshape the capital.

In the last decade fewer homes were built than in the 1960s and 70s, when the population was shrinking. House-building has failed to keep pace with the population.

Since 2002 London has seen a 21% increase in jobs and a 16% rise in population. Over the same period new homes have increased by 11%[3].

House building chart 4-2

The 11% figure disguises a stark difference between inner and outer boroughs and where those homes have been built. Data from the Department for Communities and Local Government shows that there has been a 37% increase in the number of homes in Tower Hamlets since 2001 and a 20% increase in Islington. But in the same period the growth rate in dwellings in 16 outer boroughs has been in single figures – with just 4% in Sutton and 2% in Merton.

house buidling map 5-2

This pattern of growth is a reversal of what happened through most of the 20th century when more than half of the new housing stock was provided in the outer boroughs.

This growth in inner areas is not uniform however. 28% of the housing stock in Tower Hamlets was built this century, the highest proportion anywhere in the UK. It has the space through the redevelopment of areas like Canary Wharf and Limehouse.  Kensington and Chelsea in contrast has seen a 2% growth in homes due to the lack of brownfield sites.

The building in inner London means these areas are becoming more densely packed. Housing density is measured in dwellings per hectare. The average for England as a whole is 1.8. The average rate for London is 21.5[4]. For Inner London it is more than double that again at 44.6. And for Kensington and Chelsea, the borough with London’s highest, it is 69.1 dwelling per hectare.  The lowest density is Havering with 8.7 dwellings per hectare.  Havering is 10 times larger than Kensington and Chelsea. If it were to have the same dwelling density as the Royal borough it would have nearly 800,000 homes not the 100,000 it has currently.

As in the 1930s, the location of home building is pulling the population.  The biggest rate of growth in the past 12 months is in the City of London, but the numbers are small. After that it is Tower Hamlets where there has been at a 2.3% rise in residents in a year.

The GLA’s forecast for the next 25 years[5] shows that Tower Hamlets will lead the growth in residents, closely followed by Newham as many head east in search of a home.

House buidling map 6-2

But can building keep pace with demand?   New home starts are climbing back towards where they were 10 years ago, but it is still not enough and the problem is widely acknowledged. In his housing strategy document last year[6], the outgoing Mayor, Boris Johnson, said that housing was an “epic challenge” and that the number of new homes being built in the capital would need to double to 42,000 per year for the next 20 years to keep pace with population growth.

House building in the capital has been bumping along at around the 20,000 level for the past 10 years[7]. Following the financial crisis of 2008 it dipped sharply.

House building chart 7-2

Most of the homes being built are in the private sector, not social housing, which raises issues about affordability. Even in the ‘affordable’ sector a shift has taken place.

More affordable housing was delivered in London in the 2014-15 financial year than for any period dating back to 1991[8]. 17,913 homes were built or acquired and made available (so not counted in the new starts chart above) in the affordable rented sector, according to data from the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the GLA.

Affordable rents were previously available through what was termed social housing. This is rented property provided by a council or a housing association with long, secure tenancies and rents at around 50% of the market rates.

Housing associations also provided Intermediate rental.  This gives a tenant a subsidised rent, usually around 60% of the market rate, while they save for a deposit to buy the property.

In 2010 the government introduced a new category, which it confusingly called Affordable Rent.  This aimed to give social landlords a route to maintaining or increasing the amount of lower cost rental while relying less on public funding. It allows them to charge more and have less restrictive tenancies.  Affordable Rent properties can charge up to 80% of the market rate.

It is this sector that has taken off in the past year, increasing the amount of affordable housing, but the amount of Social Rent housing has declined sharply since AR was introduced.  And this is not due to the building of new stock alone. Some Social Rent property is re-classified as Affordable Rent when it becomes vacant.

House building chart 8-2

The last time the delivery of affordable housing was at this level was in 2011-12.  In that year a comparable number of Intermediate Rent properties were made available.  But there were 11,374 Social Rent homes. In 2014-15 that had been reduced to 3,053[9].

All candidates are making pledges about houses but perhaps the voters’ decisions on the housing issue comes down to the answers to 3 simple questions.  How many houses will you build, what sort of homes will they be and where will you build them?

Sources

[1] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/population-change-1939-2015

[2] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-london

[3] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/number-and-density-of-dwellings-by-borough

[4] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/number-and-density-of-dwellings-by-borough

[5] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/population-change-1939-2015

[6] https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/housing-strategy/mayors-housing-strategy

[7] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-london

[8] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-london

[9] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-london

This report was produced in association with London Live’s election special programme London Votes

 

 

Is this the beginning of the end of the council house?

Council Housing Thamesmead-2London is soon to pass a housing landmark – the amount of social housing provided by the private sector is about to overtake the number provided by councils.

There are currently 799,400 households in social housing across the capital. That’s 23% of all households, and the rate has been fairly stable for the past 7 years, falling very gradually from 24.6% in 2009. During the same period the demand has increased from a growing population, and there are more families living in social housing in London now than there were in 2009.

What has been changing more dramatically is the ownership structure. 20 years ago town halls owned 3 times the number of homes as housing associations in the social housing sector.  The latest figures on housing stock for 2015 show that they are now near parity and the trend suggests that the majority of homes will be owned by private providers this year.

Social housing chart

Council-owned housing stock has been in decline since the 1980s when the government of Margaret Thatcher introduced the Right To Buy scheme to enable tenants to buy their council property.

Housing associations have been building at a faster rate than council have been replenishing their stocks and some councils have transferred their homes to these private providers.

A number of London boroughs have done this.  Richmond owns no housing.  Bexley, Bromley and Merton have also transferred their social housing stock to private registered  landlords, although all have a very small number of homes still listed under their ownership.

In contrast, the borough of Southwark owns 36,687 homes, the largest number in London.

Council housing stock

As many people struggle to find a suitable place to live the demand for social housing remains strong.  More than a quarter of a million households are on housing waiting lists held by local authorities.  The number has gone up by 3% since last year to 263,491, the first rise in 10 years.

All local authorities have a register of people who are seeking social housing, which offers much lower rent and secure tenancies.  The criteria councils use to decide whether someone is eligible for a place on the register have changed since 2011 when they were given greater freedom to manage the lists.  This has contributed to the reduced number of people on the lists, until last year’s rise, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Most councils warn people seeking a place on the register that with limited numbers of houses and few becoming available each year they are likely to have to wait a long time for a property, if they qualify to receive one at all.

Whether they are hoping for a council house or social housing from a housing association, their chances are limited. The social rent sector is under pressure.  Out of more than 17,000 new “affordable” homes built in London last year only 3,000 were for social rental, as reported by Urbs.

This means that many people on lower earnings will continue to seek an affordable option in the private rental market.  Rental price increases in recent years have made this a real struggle, as reported here, which is why it has become one of the key battlegrounds in the forthcoming elections for Mayor.

Source data

See also

Social housing rental defies location-driven pricing of private sector

Families face the biggest premiums for renting homes in the capital

Paying the rent takes up 72% of income for private tenants

 

Rent strike highlights students’ plight but many young people are worse off

montage 7Students at UCL are holding a rent strike to try to force the university to cut accommodation charges. They want their rent at halls of residence reduced by 40%.

The group UCL Cut the Rent says that collectively they are withholding £250,000 until their demand is met.  They say that rents have increased by 56% since 2009 and accuse the university of profiteering.

The group says that many students struggle to pay the rent, pushing them into debt and poverty which affects their studies.  While students may be struggling financially, the plight of young people trying to find affordable housing in the capital is a wider issue and the data for earnings and private rents shows that there may be many who are worse off than students.

The rent for a single room at UCL’s Max Rayne House student accommodation in Camden is £135.59 per week.  This is inclusive of bills such as heating, water rates and council tax.   At Ramsay Hall in Bloomsbury the weekly, single room rent is £209.79, and the rent here includes bills plus breakfast and dinner each weekday.

These fees may be beyond the reach of students, but if they were renting in the private sector in Camden they would be facing far higher rents.

The latest data from the Valuation Office Agency, which advises the government on property and rental values, shows that the median rent for a room in a shared house in Camden is £683 per month, or £157 weekly.

Some cheaper options may be available.  VOA data shows the rent in the cheapest 25% of property is £628 a month or £144 weekly.  These rents do not include any of the bills a person has to meet in private accommodation.

There is no doubt that a student with a maximum maintenance loan of £10,702 will struggle to live in London.  The loan is intended to cover living expenses for term time plus the Christmas and Easter holidays, as most students work over the summer. A maximum loan means an income of £267 for 40 weeks.  The rent, inclusive of bills, at Max Rayne House would absorb 50% of this income.

Most students supplement their loan income by working part time. A survey by Endsleigh Insurance of 4,600 students puts monthly earnings on average at £316 or a little over £70 a week.

For those not in education, someone over 21 earning minimum wage who is working full time, 40 hours per week, earns a gross salary of £13,936. Across the year that equates to £268 per week.  Renting a room in a shared house in one of the cheaper Camden properties would take up 53% of their gross earnings. After tax and and national insurance the net earnings would be closer to £230 per week, so the rent would be 62% of income. Then there are the bills on top.

For 18-20 year-olds, earnings are lower with the minimum wage at £5.30 an hour giving a weekly income of £212.  Once again, this would be subject to tax meaning net earnings of around £192.

People on minimum wage may be eligible for some support. The government’s recommended benefits calculator suggests that a 21-year-old working full time for minimum wage, living in a shared house in Camden would receive housing benefit of around £30 a week.

Cheaper accommodation can be found in other parts of the city. The VOA data suggests that the cheapest boroughs for renting a room in a shared house are Greenwich, Bromley, Croydon and Lambeth. But a lack of affordable housing for young people has meant that many remain living with parents or return to do so after further education.

As previously reported by Urbs, the proportion of people aged 20-34 living with parents has climbed to 24%.

living with parents

The rent strikers of UCL have highlighted the struggle for students faced with the cost of living in London.  They are undoubtedly finding it tough but life for the poorly paid young people who are not in education may be even tougher.

Valuation Office Agency source data

See also

Universities climb world rankings, but here’s how they score against the best

More “affordable” homes but the rents prove unaffordable for many

Where are all the young people? The in-out flow of 20-something Londoners

Universities marked down by their own students

Housing the top concern in survey that reveals the worst and best of London

Flats Tom Gowanlockshutterstock_134424665-1-2-1-2

Photo: Tom Gowanlock | Shutterstock.com

A survey of nearly 4,000 Londoners has found that their greatest worry is the cost finding a place to live.

When asked to identify the worst thing about living in the capital 31% of the responses pointed to the cost of a housing and a further 28% to the general cost of living.

Just 8% say they are satisfied with housing in London. Their concerns cover the availability of low cost homes to buy and the high cost of rents. Only 10% believe that the homes being built currently are affordable for a range of people. As revealed by Urbs, much of the housing labelled as “affordable’ is beyond the means of many.

There is also dissatisfaction with the private rental sector. 71% of respondents said there is a lack of affordable private rental property and most are unhappy with the quality of the rentals that are available.

The survey is the second Annual London Survey carried out by City Hall.  It polled 3,861 people online at the end of 2015.  The participants were self-selecting but the data was weighted to reflect the gender, age and ethnic mix of London.

Around half the people polled have lived in the city for more than 20 years.  More than a quarter had lived in their local neighbourhood for the same amount of time.

Their other big concerns shown in the survey included 67% of respondents who said that they were dissatisfied with the fairness of wages, 62% unhappy about the affordability of public transport and 57% dissatisfied with air quality.

But there were some positives to living in the capital.  The thing identified by most was simply the huge variety of things to do.  Access to museums, galleries, theatres and live music emerged as one of the big pluses of London life for many.

Despite the problems, more people like rather that loathe London life.  Overall, 75% said they are satisfied with London as a place to live. But when asked about the future they came back to their chief concern: housing.  The issue most mentioned as the challenge facing the capital is building affordable homes.  It’s an issue that the Mayor himself has called an epic challenge.

Source data

See also

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

Under 40s locked out of housing market destined to be “generation rent”

More “affordable” homes but the rents prove unaffordable for many

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