First time buyers ‘locked out’ of Norfolk’s housing market

An entire generation of first-time home buyers are being priced out of Norfolk's housing market as average property prices across the county top �200,000 and the cost of renting goes through the roof.

According to an investigation by the National Housing Federation, prospective buyers have 'little realistic chance' of owning their own property as many would struggle to come up with a deposit, or save for one as they continue to pay ever-increasing private rents.

In its report released today, the Federation – which represents housing associations across England – has revealed a Norfolk worker needs to earn �40,704 a year and raise a �47,488 deposit to secure an average priced property at �189,952, based on a 75pc mortgage.

But its figures showed the county's average employee earns just �18,221 – meaning someone on this salary would have to save every penny for more than two and half years to come up with the necessary deposit.

The Federation is now pushing for more affordable homes to be built to help the 21-30-year-old generation who are finding it 'desperately hard' to buy a home.

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The report said young buyers living in Broadland, north and south Norfolk districts - where the average house now costs more than �200,000 – faced the toughest climb onto the ladder as they would need to be earning between �43-46,000 a year to afford a 75pc mortgage.

And despite being at the end of the spectrum those in Norwich and Great Yarmouth would still need to be earning nearly double the average salary.

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Claire Astbury, the Federation's lead manager in east England, said: 'It's sad but Norfolk has become un-affordable for the average, hard working person who has little realistic chance of buying their own house, triggering even greater demand for good social housing or a desperate search for a home in the more expensive private rented sector.'

The Federation's report 'Home Truths', which was launched at the House of Commons, also warned first time buyers looking at properties at the lower end of the price range would struggle with finding a deposit.

To buy a home for �125,000 requires a salary of �26,785 and a deposit of �31,250, it said.

Mrs Astbury added: 'We see that there will be fewer people able to own in the next two years and at the same time - and probably as a consequence - renting privately will become more expensive, which diminishes peoples' ability to save for a deposit.

'Anyone who's trying to move on or set up home in the forthcoming few years or beyond will find it even more of a struggle.'

Chris Mitchell, managing director of Norfolk-wide Howards estate agents, said first time buyers were almost an 'extinct species' but did not think the price of properties was keeping people off the ladder.

'It's the mortgage situation that has caused the problem, all the lenders have introduced extra fees,' he added. 'The rates are probably OK but they want very high deposits. As a result of that there are very few first time buyers.'

In November Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg pledged to 'unstick' the housing market and give first time buyers a helping hand by revealing a package of measures to boost the property market.

Among their proposals was the introduction of a taxpayer-backed 95pc mortgage for newly built homes, which would cut the deposit needed for prospective buyers to 5pc. They also want to plough �400m into building up to 16,000 new homes by injecting investment into construction sites where work has stalled.

The Federation is now urging the coalition to make true on these promises.

Mrs Astbury added: 'Ministers should make a renewed commitment to building the affordable homes we need and identify housing as a key driver for economic activity. House building is a crucial part of economic recovery, creating real jobs, and supporting apprenticeships and training.'

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