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Families facing ‘housing affordability crisis’

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More than 80 per cent of properties on sale in England are unaffordable for an average working family looking to buy their first home.

Housing charity Shelter, which compared the price of every home listed on property website Zoopla on a single day in April 2014 to average local wages, found that in large swathes of the country fewer than one in ten two bedroom homes on the market were affordable for a family with two children.

The calculations assumed that homebuyers could borrow up to 3.4 times their income and had already saved a standard deposit.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “When a family looking to buy their first home searches a whole town for a place to live and finds nothing they can afford, it’s clear we’re not just facing a housing shortage anymore. It’s a full blown drought.”

There were fewer than 10 affordable family homes for sale in 83 different areas across the country. In Cambridge, for example, just three such homes were on offer. In Brighton and Hove just a single property was considered affordable.

In 14 local authority areas, including the London borough of Lewisham, a family on an average income could not afford a single size-appropriate home on the market. 

In fact less than 10 per cent of available properties across 32 London boroughs were affordable for a working couple with children.

But affordability is not an issue limited to the South East. In Exeter just one per cent of homes on the market was considered affordable for the typical family in that area. In South Lakeland, in the North West, just 43 out of more than a thousand homes were within reach.

Options were even more limited for families with smaller deposits. Shelter found that 88 per cent of homes were unaffordable for families with a five per cent deposit.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average house price in the UK has reached £260,000 – almost 10 per cent higher than a year ago, while homeownership in England has fallen to its lowest level since 1987.

Robb said: “Our failure to build more homes is leaving a whole generation of young people with no choice but to remain trapped in expensive and unstable private renting, or stuck in their childhood bedrooms for years to come, no matter how hard they work or save.

“What we need right now is for politicians to roll up their sleeves and make stable homes for the next generation a top priority.”

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