New research has shown that housing affordability has remained at a seven-year high, despite the rising cost of property during 2009.

Slight increases in average earnings, combined with falling mortgage rates, helped to offset the price rises seen last year, to leave housing affordability at its highest level since 2003, according to property website Zoopla.co.uk.

The group said 58% of properties in the UK were currently affordable for someone on average local earnings, based on people spending up to a third of their pay on mortgage repayments. This compares with affordability levels of just 34% when property prices peaked in 2007.

Unsurprisingly, affordability levels vary greatly across the country, with homes typically more affordable in the north than in the south, despite the higher income levels of people working in the south.

Bradford is the UK’s most affordable city, with people on local earnings able to buy 82% of homes in the area, followed by Hull at 81%, Stoke-on-Trent at 80% and Birmingham and Coventry, both at 78%.

Housing in London is the least affordable in the country, with only 32% of people on local salaries able to afford to buy in the capital.

Affordability is also stretched in Southampton, where only 44% of people can afford to buy, followed by Bristol at 53%, Norwich at 58% and Leicester at 59%.

Piggy BankNicholas Leeming, commercial director of Zoopla.co.uk, said: “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.”

Meanwhile, separate research showed that people could save an average of up to £243 per month on mortgage costs by buying a property further away from their local town or city centre and commuting to work.

Property search engine Gartoo.co.uk said someone working in Newcastle upon Tyne who bought a three-bedroom home would be £243 a month better off if they purchased a property in Walkergate rather than Newcastle and had a 12 minute commute each day.

Source: http://www.zoopla.co.uk

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