Friday, 22 February 2019

Escape to the country will cost you £52,000

COUNTRYSIDE homes are nearly a quarter more expensive on average than those in urban areas, according to the Halifax.

The bank’s latest research shows the average rural premium across the UK to be £52,917.

One reason for this is that buyers typically get more space from a rural home — with the average size being 130 square metres compared to 105 square metres in an urban home — a difference of 23 per cent.

The average price for rural homes is £2,100 per square metre compared to the £2,135 per square metre you would pay for in an urban equivalent.

Property in rural areas was found to be less affordable than in urban areas, with prices 7.8 times average annual earnings compared to a ratio of 6.1 in cities.

All 10 of the least affordable rural local authority districts are to be found in southern England.

Chichester is the least affordable, with an average house price of £456,574 — 12.3 times the local annual average earnings of £37,188.

The second least affordable area is West Oxfordshire, with an average house price of £388,838 at 10.8 times local annual earnings of £36,150.

Those wishing to escape to the country on a more manageable budget should instead look to the rural districts in the north of England and Scotland.

Copeland is the most affordable in Britain, where the average house price is £141,349 and 3.4 times local average gross annual earnings, followed by East Ayrshire and the Shetland Islands.

While a “rural premium” exists across the country, the research found substantial disparities across the UK — the greatest being in the West Midlands, where the average house price in rural areas (£299,555) is £98,241 or 49 per cent higher than in the region’s urban areas (£201,314).

By contrast, the smallest difference is in the East of England, where the average premium on countryside homes drops to £18,857.

Between 2013 and 2018, the average price of a countryside home rose by 28 per cent compared with an average increase of 36 per cent in urban areas, resulting in the urban-rural premium gap of 24 per cent or £52,917.

Halifax mortgages director Andrew Bickers said: “The countryside is a draw for many homeowners looking to escape the pressures of city life.

“As well as being able to enjoy the wide open spaces of the countryside, homeowners will also find that rural homes offer on average around 20 percent more space per square metre than their urban counterparts.

“Housing affordability, particularly in the south of England, is still to an extent putting out-of-town country houses out of reach for many who would prefer country life, especially those looking to buy their first property.

“This is reflected in first-time buyers accounting for a smaller proportion of homebuyers in the countryside than in urban areas.”

Other highlights of the Halifax’s research findings are as follows:

• Rural homes offer over 20 per cent more square metre space than their urban counterparts.

• The least affordable rural local authority districts outside the South and Eastern England are Melton and Rutland in the East Midlands.

• Waverley in the South East is the most expensive rural area in Britain with an average house price of £511,174. This is followed by Sevenoaks (£481,642), Winchester (£464,694) and Chichester (£456,574).

• The average house price in Waverley is nearly four times higher than in East Ayrshire in Scotland (£128,284), the cheapest rural district in the country.

• First-time buyers account for 43 per cent of all mortgage-financed purchases in rural areas, compared to 54 per cent in urban areas.

• Getting on the rural property ladder is at its most challenging for first-time buyers in southern England, where they only make up 27 per cent of all purchases in West Devon and Uttlesford.

• The highest proportion of first-time buyers can be found in the Shetlands (62 per cent), followed by Forest Heath in East of England, Richmondshire in Yorkshire and the Humber (both 56 per cent).


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