Home ownership became less affordable for first-time housebuyers across most of the England and Wales last year, according to an analysis from the Office for National Statistics.

An ONS report published on Wednesday showed that affordability fell in nearly four in five local authorities in 2017, compared with previous years.

The analysis showed London remained the least affordable region for first-time homeowners, with prospective buyers set to spend 13 times their annual earnings on property in the capital. The North East of England was the most affordable region, with first-time buyers spending about 5.5 times earnings.

Neal Hudson, director at Residential Analysts, a research company, said the fact that buyers were spending “such a high multiple” of their wages on buying a home suggested that “the typical first-time buyer is not a typical person”.

“In order to buy in London or the South East you need to be in the upper end of the income distribution and have help from the Bank of Mum and Dad, and that’s a very select group of people,” said Mr Hudson.

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“If you’re lucky, it’s great, and if you’re not then there’s not a lot you can do about it,” he added. “There’s a group of people who are looking at renting for an awfully long time.”

The decline in first-time home affordability — a measure that takes into account the average income of workers in their twenties and the price of the cheapest quartile of homes — has come despite UK government attempts to help people buy their first home with the “Help to Buy” equity loan scheme.

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Earlier this year, the Resolution Foundation think-tank said that without radical changes to housing policy, half of all UK millennials, defined as those between the ages of 18 and 35, would rent their homes into their 40s, while one-third would rent into retirement.

In London, house prices started to fall last year for the first time since 2009, according to Nationwide, the lender, as slow wage growth depressed the affordability of property across the capital.


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