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More than half of Britain has seen wages rise faster than house prices in the last 10 years, research by a mortgage lender has suggested.

Edinburgh and Birmingham are among the 54% of areas where pay has outpaced property prices since 2007, the Yorkshire Building Society found.

Yet the gap between wages and house prices has widened dramatically in other areas.

The building society suggested this had accentuated a north-south divide.

Across London and much of southern England, it has become “increasingly difficult for first-time buyers and those wanting to move up the housing ladder”, said Andrew McPhillips, chief economist at the Yorkshire Building Society.

“However, the north of England, Wales and Scotland present a different picture entirely, with many places more affordable than they were before the credit crunch,” he said.

“While some northern cities, such as Manchester, are less affordable than they were in 2007, in much of the north of England, Scotland and Wales, the gap between earnings and house prices is around a third of the average for London.”

The analysis compares earnings data for each area from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) with Land Registry house price data at local authority level.

This is a relatively narrow definition of “affordability” as it ignores issues such as falling mortgage rates and the decreasing proportion of disposable income that is spent on home loan repayments.

Overall, the Yorkshire concludes that wage rises have effectively kept pace with increasing property prices in Britain compared with 10 years ago.

In England, house prices rose faster, with the typical home costing 8.2 times median average pre-tax earnings for a single full-time employee compared with 7.9 times in 2007.

In Scotland, wages rose faster – with the current house price five times the size of typical average earnings in Scotland, compared with 6.2 times in 2007.

The same was true in Wales where the ratio has changed from 6.9 times earnings in 2007 to 5.7 times now.

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Biggest changes

Three areas of Scotland have seen the biggest shift in wages rising faster than house prices compared with 10 years ago, according to the analysis.

They include Inverclyde, where house prices are 3.67 times average full-time gross earnings in the area now compared to 6.38 times a decade ago. The other two biggest movers were North Ayrshire and West Dunbartonshire.

At the other end of the scale was the Three Rivers local authority area in Hertfordshire, which has seen house prices rise from 9.83 times typical full-time earnings in that area in 2007 to 15.83 times now.

The next two biggest movers in that direction were the London borough of Haringey, where house prices are 17.5 times that area’s typical earnings, and the London borough of Westminster which sees the average home cost more than £1m, or 24 times average earnings there.


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