Research: How much of the housing market is affordable?

By: Adam van Lohuizen  Published: April 2015


Buying a home is an aspiration for many young people but it is increasingly feeling out of reach for many. At the moment in England, buying a home is perceived as one of the most secure ways of having a home. However, the failure of successive governments to build enough affordable homes for decades and rising house prices has meant that home ownership has become a dream rather than a reality for a lot of young people. This has resulted with them either living back with their parents or spending many years in the expensive and unstable private rented sector.

Summary

Shelter has carried out research which looks at how affordable homes on the open market are for three different types of households. It has used a snapshot of every property advertised for sale on Zoopla on one day in March 2015 and then looked at what different types of households on average earnings would be able to afford. The data has been broken down to a local authority level to address variation in earning and local housing markets.

Across England, only one in six properties are listed at an affordable price.
Analysis of properties listed on Zoopla across England found that only 16.9% of listings, or 42,185 homes, were affordable and suitable for families earning the median income of £30,748. For single people looking to buy a home, only 7.5% of homes were listed at an affordable price, whilst for couples without children, 32.3% of the market is priced affordably.


In 35 areas, there were no affordable homes for families who need at least two bedrooms.
We found 35 local authority areas where there were zero homes with two or more bedrooms that a family could afford. If a family needs three or more bedrooms, as many do, there were another 58 local authority areas (93 in total) where we didn't find any affordable homes on the market.


We found just 43 affordable family homes listed in London – and that included houseboats.
Unsurprisingly, London is the area with the lowest affordability. Only 43 listings (0.1% of the market) were identified in London as being affordable for a family. Further analysis of these listings found that even this number is likely to be optimistic, since only nine of the 43 properties would be a genuine option for a family to buy. The remaining 34 properties had incorrect information in their listings, were likely to only be sold for a higher amount than the listed price at auction, or were inappropriate as family homes, including four listings for houseboats.


While eventual sale prices will differ somewhat from advertised prices, the very low proportions of affordable listings found in our analysis reveals the stark housing marketplace faced by the average first-time buyer. For those struggling on even lower incomes, owning a home will seem little more than a dream.

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