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Countryside living is increasingly unaffordable

The rise in rural house prices was also greater than the increase in property prices in urban areas (91%). The average rural house price is now 20% higher than the average urban house price compared to 17% higher in 2000.

House prices in rural areas experienced smaller house price falls during the recent downturn in the housing market. Rural property prices fell by 20% between 2007 and 2009 compared to a 25% drop in urban areas.

Other key findings:

• Urban property has slightly outperformed rural homes over the past year. Rural property prices rose by 4% between 2009 and 2010 compared with a 5% rise in urban house prices.

• Rural housing affordability has deteriorated in the last ten years. Rural house prices in 2010 are, on average, 6.4 times average gross annual earnings. This is up from 4.6 times average earnings in 2000, but lower than the 8.2 multiple in 2007.
• Rural housing remains less affordable than in urban areas where average prices are 5.4 times average annual earnings.
• There are significantly fewer first-time buyers in rural areas, accounting for 27% of all buyers compared with 45% in urban areas.
• Social housing provision is much lower in rural areas of England.13% of the rural housing stock in England was social housing in 2009 compared with 19% in urban areas.
• House prices across rural parts of the South East rose by 8.9% over the past year, more than any other region. In contrast, the West Midlands recorded a 1.2% price fall.

Suren Thiru, housing economist at Halifax, said:

"With the lifestyle benefits associated with living in the countryside still resonating with homebuyers, rural
properties continue to trade at a significant premium to homes in urban areas. However, as a consequence of rising property prices and generally lower average earnings, the housing market in rural areas has become more challenging over the past decade, particularly for those looking to get on the property ladder."

Rural house prices by local authority district

The most expensive rural local authority district (LAD) in Great Britain is South Oxfordshire with an average house price of £388,326; 85% above the GB rural average (£209,972). East Ayrshire (£107,515) is the least expensive rural LAD in Britain.

Five of the ten rural LADs that recorded the largest price rises over the past decade are in Wales. Craven in Yorkshire and the Humber saw the largest price rise (180%), followed by Copeland in the North West (175%) and Powys and Pembrokeshire in Wales (both 164%).

East Devon is the least affordable rural local authority district in Britain with an average house price (£252,813) that is 9.1 times local average earnings, followed by Uttlesford in the East of England at 8.9 times average earnings.

East Ayrshire is the most affordable rural LAD in Britain with an average house price that is 3.9 times local average annual earnings.

North Lincolnshire has the highest proportion of first-time buyers (47%) in rural Britain. In contrast, Wychavon in the West Midlands, the Derbyshire Dales and South Northamptonshire in the East Midlands and Craven in Yorkshire and the Humber have the smallest proportion of first time buyers, accounting for just 13% of all buyers; less than half the GB average (27%).

Kennet in Wiltshire (23%) has the highest level of social housing in rural England, followed by Allerdale, North East Derbyshire, Copeland and Wear Valley (all 20%).

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