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Best and worst cities for first-time buyers

by Sponsored Content
25th Apr 18 7:28 am

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Following the news this week that mortgages for home buyers hit their highest level for a decade, arguably there’s never been a better time to get on the property ladder. With this in mind, MoneySuperMarket, the UK’s leading price comparison site, today unveils its inaugural First Time Buyer Index, aimed at helping the growing number of people looking for their first home to choose the best location to buy. 

The Index analysed 35 UK cities against key criteria for first-time buyers, including the cost of a one-bed property, crime statistics, job opportunities and average salary in the local area.

Oxford is top of the rankings, followed by Bath, Wolverhampton, York and Aberdeen.

Best five cities for first time buyers:

  1. Oxford – first place due to high average salaries, good job opportunities and its position within the commuting belt to London.
  2. Bath – second place due to the highest job availability of all cities analysed, with 13.76 vacancies per 100 capita, while big company headquarters within commuting distance of Bath – such as Clark’s Shoes, Screwfix and Future Publishing – also make it an attractive city for those looking to settle down.
  3. Wolverhampton – third place because it scores marks for affordable housing, with an average one-bed property costing £97,821 – significantly lower than the national average of £134,561.
  4. York – fourth place despite relatively high housing costs – at over £155,000 for a one-bed flat – due to a low contents theft rate, at only 6.9 per 1,000 capita. A relatively high disposable income, at £17,663 per household, also puts this city in the top five.
  5. Aberdeen – fifth in the rankings and beats Glasgow by 17 places, thanks to a higher average disposable income and good average house prices – £164,041 compared to London’s average of just under £500,000 (£484,172).

At the other end of the spectrum is London, which ranks lowest in the table, alongside Newry, Hull, Sheffield and Leicester.

Worst five cities for first time buyers:

  1. London – Although many people commute to the capital from nearby towns, London itself came last, mainly due to sky-high property prices, with the average one-bed property sitting at £513,084 (complete with a hefty £15,654 stamp duty for first time buyers). Despite good job opportunities and salary potential, London also has a high rate of contents theft claims, with 18.5 claims per 1,000 quotes, beaten only by Manchester (20.6), Leicester (21.0), Bradford (24.7) and Leeds (26.5).
  2. Newry – The Northern Irish city came in second-to-last, scoring lowest on job opportunities and household disposable income, which ranked as the ninth lowest in the UK. Salaries also came in well below the national average.
  3. Hull – Limited job opportunities meant that the UK’s City of Culture in 2017 ranks low on the list, with low average salaries and limited job availability in the immediate area.
  4. Sheffield – The Steel City placed poorly thanks to lower than average job opportunities and a high contents theft rate (18.1 claims per 1000 quotes).
  5. Leicester – Leicester scored second to lowest on household income, with the average disposable income at £12,877 – less than half of what Oxford residents earn on average (£28,000).

Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, commented: “Buying a property for the first time is exciting, but it comes with the hard decision of choosing a location that suits your budget, your job and your lifestyle. With lots of factors – such as house prices and career opportunities – to take into consideration, it can be a daunting task.

“What is crucial is that people take the full range of factors into account. Are they willing to move to another city in search of higher pay, so they can get a foot on the housing ladder? Or do family ties and other commitments mean they’ll stay put and forego the chance of owning a property, at least in the short term?

“The first-time buyer sector is showing signs of life as property prices fall in some areas, thanks to the heat going out of the buy-to-let market. If buyers can be flexible, they stand a better chance of finding somewhere they can afford to purchase.”

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