Anne Diamond: The property ladder is a tough one to climb for first time buyers

PUBLISHED: 16:31 10 October 2016 | UPDATED: 16:31 10 October 2016

It's becoming harder to get that first key of your own door (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It's becoming harder to get that first key of your own door (Getty Images/iStockphoto)


Anne looks back at some old salary secrets and wonders if the Queen should become involved in the house price debate

We live in such a lovely part of the country, but how are our kids are ever going to be able to afford to also live here, when you look at house prices? Latest reports show prices in our highly desirable area soaring at a greater rate than much of the rest of the UK. And whilst earnings in our area are also higher than average, they’re not always high enough for prospective first time house buyers.

When I bought my first house, it was a three bedroomed semi, newly built, in the early 80s and it cost me £23,000. My salary was about £11,000 so it was affordable - only about double my earnings. My colleague at BBC Radio Berkshire, Bill Buckley, says his first flat, in London in 1984, was £ 34,250 and his salary was £15,000 so he found the mortgage payments “easy peasy”.

Lots of my lovely listeners echoed the same - buying houses in the 1970s at prices where for every £3K of cost you needed about £1K of salary. But look at the difference facing our youngsters now. It’s a yawning chasm of unaffordability and it’s not just in Berkshire or Buckinghamshire, either. The average salary in Britain is £26,500 and the average house costs £200,000.

Green and leafy West Berkshire, for instance has a year-on-year price rise that’s almost double that seen across much of the rest of England, and the average house price here is £133,000 higher than the average cost of a home in the rest of the UK. I guess if you invest in property, you have a big smile on your face. But in many families, the younger generation are in despair at ever being able to get on the property ladder and Mum and Dad are increasingly re-mortgaging or equity releasing to help out, perhaps putting their own comfortable retirement and future care costs in jeopardy. In a country where we all still feel the need to own our own “castle”, I’m spitting in fury at the whole situation. Someone’s head should roll - but whose fault is it?

Perhaps the Queen can do something? During the 90 years of her life, she has presided over a 35,000 per cent rise in house prices! In 1926, when she was born, a typical three-bedroom semi cost £619. The same house today has a price tag of £291,505. If property price growth rises at the same rate over the next 23 years, when Prince Charles turns 90, the value of an ordinary home will be a staggering £1.3m. Now that’s just not fair. I cannot foresee average earnings at £300,000, can you? 

Did you know?

• In 2008 ‘priced’ Windsor Castle at £180m (a drop of £8m from the previous year as prices were falling at the time).

• The most recent Halifax Rural Housing Review showed that rural homeowners have seen the value of their property jump by more than £100,000 in the past decade. This means the average rural house price is now 20% higher than its equivalent in an urban area.

• From a high of one in three in the mid-1980s, now just one in 10 people aged under 24 are able to afford to buy.

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