First-time buyers in the North West of England can purchase a home for as little as two and a half times their annual income.
A new report from Halifax has identified the region as one of the most affordable locations in the UK for people buying their first property.
With thriving cultural cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, stunning countryside in the Lake District and the prospect of High Speed 2 links to London, the North West represents an increasingly attractive option for those looking to get on to the ladder.
Here, we take a closer look at the first-time buyer hotspots in the region.
North West hotspots for first-time buyers
Last week, Halifax released its first-time buyer review, with the findings based on data from UK Finance, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and its own mortgage lending figures.
Halifax identified the North West as the third best area for first-time buyers in the UK, following the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber.
This conclusion was based on the amount that first-time buyers paid in 2018, taking into account average house prices and upfront deposits.
The study found that Pendle in Lancashire and Copeland in Cumbria are the top two most affordable places for first-time buyers, with homes costing around 2.6 times the average local salary.
The interactive map above shows the most affordable places to buy a home in the North West, based on average earnings.
Barrow-in-Furness and West Lancashire in the North West were also included in the top 10 spots, with house price-to-earnings ratios of 3.2 and 3.3 respectively. The remaining six places were all taken by areas in Scotland.
Where are homes selling quickly?
The property portal Rightmove claims that Runcorn in Cheshire has the country’s fastest-moving property market, based on the sale time of homes listed on its website.
The average selling time for a house in Runcorn (where the average asking price is around £133,000) is currently 48 days, which is three weeks quicker than the previous year and 29 days quicker than the national average.
Runcorn’s housing boom is thought to be driven by a new six-lane toll bridge over the Mersey that links the town with Widnes, theoretically allowing 20-minute journey times to Liverpool.
Rightmove said that it calculates selling times based on the time between a property being listed online and it being marked as under offer or sold subject to contract.
Most ‘liveable’ locations in the North West
Working with a former HM Treasury economist, the housing provider Your Housing Group has produced a ‘Liveability Index’ for the North West of England.
The index focuses not just on housing availability and costs (rents and mortgages) but also other amenities such as jobs, wages and the standard of local schools.
The index is grouped into four main metrics, against which each local authority area is measured: housing availability, housing affordability, local opportunities (abundance of jobs, wage levels) and desirability of area (quality of local schools, factors of local wealth).
Your Housing Group has ranked Oldham as the most challenging place to live in the North West due to factors such as low average earnings (£23,803 per year) and low employment rate (67.4%).
South Lakeland in Cumbria tops the affordability list, with higher average earnings (£26,212) and a better employment rate (86%), as well as access to popular and high-ranking schools.
Buyers priced out of Manchester city centre
Manchester, the home of two Premiership football clubs, is one of the most famous cities in Europe, in part due to its legendary cultural and music scene.
However the city is ranked in the bottom five by the housing association Your Housing Group, due to ‘extremely challenging affordability and the need for new affordable housing’.
Georgina Cox, the North West representative for NAEA Propertymark, said overseas investors are snapping up the many new high-rise developments springing up in Manchester city centre, putting them out of reach of first-time buyers.
Georgina said: ‘The hotspots for first-time buyers are the outskirts of Manchester and Liverpool. The prices in Manchester city centre are ridiculous, and availability remains low.’