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UK housing market affordability reaches seven-year high

10th Mar 2010

- 58% of homes now affordable up from just 34% three years ago -

  • Property prices now more affordable than at any time since in 2003
  • Average UK income earner can afford to buy 58% of UK properties
  • Bradford most affordable market in UK, London least affordable

New research released today by leading property website Zoopla.co.uk reveals that the fall in house prices and mortgage rates over the past couple of years has resulted in UK housing affordability at its highest level since 2003.

The average UK income earner can now afford to buy 58% of all homes, up significantly in comparison to the property market peak in 2007, when just 34% of homes were affordable. Over the past 10 years, affordability levels reached their highest point in 2002 at 66% and then fell steadily over the next 5 years. The current levels were last seen in 2003 when the affordability rate was 56%, leaving UK property more affordable now than at any time in the past 7 years according to the Zoopla.co.uk research.

Zoopla.co.uk calculates the affordability rate using median incomes and average house prices in each geographic area along with prevailing mortgage rates. It judges a home to be 'affordable' if one third of the median income is sufficient to cover mortgage repayments. In 2002 using one third of income to meet mortgage repayments allowed a purchase of £118,934 whereas today, given the current low financing costs and increased incomes, the same proportion of income finances a purchase of £188,423.

In 2007, when house prices and mortgage rates peaked, affordability rates nationally fell to record lows of 34%, resulting in the subsequent correction over the past couple of years to the more sustainable level of 58% currently. Across the UK, affordability rates vary greatly by area with the most affordable markets generally in the north and the least affordable in the south, despite the higher income levels.

Bradford was revealed as the most affordable city in the UK where four out of five homes (82%) are affordable for residents on the average local income. Hull came in as the second most affordable with 81% of homes now deemed affordable, followed by Stoke-on-Trent (80%), Birmingham (78%) and Coventry (78%).

London tops the list of the least affordable housing markets in the UK by some margin in spite of having the highest median income in the land. Less than one third (32%) of homes are affordable for residents of the capital today, although this is a significant improvement on the low point reached in 2007 when a mere 11% of properties were deemed affordable. Southampton (44%), Bristol (53%), Norwich (58%) and Leicester (59%) were among the five least affordable markets in the UK.

Nicholas Leeming, Commercial Director of Zoopla.co.uk, commented: "Affordability rates have improved substantially over the past couple of years as a result of lower mortgage rates and falling house prices that have now begun to stabilise. We are at levels of affordability not seen in the UK housing market for almost seven years which makes it a great time to buy, especially if current low interest rates can be locked in by the borrower."

Housing market affordability rate in key UK markets

City Average Value* Affordability rate**
  March 2010 (£) March 2010 3 Years Ago 5 Years Ago 7 Years Ago 10 Years Ago
Total UK £211,056 58% 34% 39% 56% 65%
Bradford £115,900 82% 54% 66% 86% 88%
Hull £110,057 81% 56% 66% 85% 87%
Stoke-on-Trent £117,620 80% 52% 59% 81% 83%
Birmingham £146,003 78% 43% 47% 71% 81%
Coventry £147,750 78% 45% 56% 72% 80%
Derby £154,050 78% 53% 56% 75% 84%
Manchester £137,180 77% 45% 56% 79% 83%
Liverpool £138,995 75% 43% 50% 77% 82%
Sheffield £151,661 73% 44% 50% 73% 80%
Nottingham £147,390 72% 43% 45% 64% 76%
Leeds £163,331 72% 44% 48% 71% 80%
Glasgow £147,806 71% 51% 59% 73% 77%
Cardiff £187,410 64% 31% 37% 60% 72%
Newcastle £140,171 63% 35% 41% 62% 72%
Edinburgh £221,824 60% 41% 45% 63% 69%
Leicester £160,805 59% 21% 25% 50% 68%
Norwich £186,347 58% 18% 25% 47% 66%
Bristol £208,225 53% 15% 22% 43% 59%
Southampton £209,333 44% 15% 17% 34% 52%
London £420,237 32% 11% 17% 29% 37%

* Source: Zoopla.co.uk
** Calculated by Zoopla.co.uk as the proportion of properties where a third of median income in the selected market would be sufficient to cover mortgage repayments, based on prevailing mortgage rates and a 75% LTV mortgage payable over 25 years.

- Ends -

For further information, please contact Tim Vooght at pr@zoopla.co.uk or on 020 3872 5615.

Notes to editors

About Zoopla.co.uk

Zoopla.co.uk is the UK's most comprehensive property website, focused on empowering consumers with the resources they need to make better-informed property decisions. We help our users make sense of the residential property market by combining property listings with market value data, local information and community tools.

Zoopla.co.uk was founded on the principles of transparency and efficiency and everything we do aims to make the market more effective for both property consumers and professionals alike. By combining free, instant value estimates for every UK home with sold prices, local market information and hundreds of thousands of properties available for sale and to rent, Zoopla.co.uk has rapidly become the ultimate destination for property consumers to search for property and do their market research. Our unique features allow users to gain an insight into the market and discover information they won't find anywhere else. And, as a result, we have become one of the most valued sources of both applicant and vendor leads for UK estate agents.

Launched in 2008, we are the fastest growing property website in the UK, now attracting over 12 million visits per month and are proud to have been awarded numerous accolades including being listed in the Top 10 UK Tech Companies (Guardian) and the Top 10 Most Innovative UK Companies (Smarta 100) as well as being voted the UK's Best Property Portal (Web User, Daily Mail Awards, Website of the Year).

Zoopla Limited is a privately held company with a highly experienced and proven management team, led by Founder and CEO, Alex Chesterman, and backed by well-respected angel investors and leading venture capital firms Atlas Venture (atlasventure.com) and Octopus Ventures (octopusventures.com).

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