Research from eXp UK, the network of personal estate agents, has revealed just how fragmented the UK property market is, with buyers able to purchase more than two homes for the average UK house price across 5% of local authorities, while in the most expensive areas of the market, the same budget won’t even bag them half a home.
After a period of unprecedented boom during the pandemic, the UK’s housing market is starting to settle and house prices are inevitably starting to fall. Many home buyers and sellers are left wondering how best to proceed in this uncertain time – is now a good time to get involved in the housing market or not?
When answering such a question, it’s important to remember that the UK housing market is fragmented. When news stories announce house price drops, they’re talking about the nationwide average when, in truth, prices and their trajectory differ greatly from one region to next, and even one postcode district to the next.
Over the last 12 months, the UK’s national average house price has increased by 9.8%, but within this national picture, there are some wildly different stories playing out.
In West Lancashire, for example, prices have increased by a remarkable 23.8% on the year while, at the other end of the spectrum, prices in London’s Westminster have dropped by -13.4%.
In fact, such is the variety among local housing markets that, in some areas, the national average house price is enough to buy two homes while, in other areas, it’s barely enough to scratch the surface of local prices.
The average UK house price is currently £294,329 but, by measuring this against average prices in all of the UK’s local authority areas, eXp reveals that this is enough money to buy two homes in 5.1% of the UK’s local markets.
Nowhere does it buy you more than in Burnley, Lancashire. Here, the average local house price is £117,661 which means you could buy 2.5 homes with a budget equal to the national average price.
In Inverclyde, you can buy 2.35 homes, and in Ayrshire, you can get 2.32 homes.
At the same time, however, in 4% of local authority districts the current UK average house price is not enough to buy even half a home.
In London’s Kensington & Chelsea, where the average house price currently stands at just under £1.3m, a budget of £294,329 gets you less than a quarter of a home and it’s a similar story in London’s other prime boroughs, including the City of London (0.30 homes), and the City of Westminster (0.32 homes).
Even outside of London’s predictably pricey market, there is Elmbridge, Surrey where a budget equal to the national average will only get you 41% of a home.
Head of eXp UK, Adam Day, commented:
“I think there are two important take-aways from this research. The first is that the luck and fortune of buyers and sellers differs greatly depending on location. A first-time buyer with exactly the same budget in two different parts of the country will face varying levels of difficulty when it comes to the issue of property price affordability.
The second vital take-away is an understanding that the overall health of the housing market is largely judged with very broad strokes. This is particularly important for both buyers and sellers when it comes to negotiating the market.
When house prices are reportedly falling as is currently the case, an over ambitious buyer may find that their aggressive negotiation techniques fall on deaf ears, should they be house hunting in an area of the market that is still going from strength to strength.
In contrast, some sellers may still be overpricing based on the fact the market, albeit cooling, is still in fairly fine form. However, if they happen to be selling in an area, such as Westminster, they will need to accept the fact their home has dropped in value by a significant sum versus the wider performance of the market.
It’s all about gaining a good understanding of your immediate market and chatting to a good, local agent is the easiest and fastest way of getting hold of this knowledge.”