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Accessibility deteriorated 230% since 1996

The cost of becoming a home purchaser deteriorated by 13.8% in 2006 and has worsened by almost 230% since the low point in 1996.

An accessibility index developed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has found that over the past 10 years the rise in house prices has been so pronounced that accessibility is almost 230% worse than in 1996 and currently as low as the weak levels experienced in 1980.

A first-time buyer couple will now have to save up to the equivalent of 81.8% percent of joint take home pay, to build up the 32,784 needed for up front buying costs on a typical home, deposit and Stamp Duty.

This equates to a substantial rise from the low point of 25.2% required in 1996.

With RICS predicting that house prices will rise by 12% over the next two years, circumstances are expected to worsen.

It warns accessibility worsened sharply in the second half of 2006 and is now rapidly approaching the all time high of 2004 in Q3.

Affordability weakened in Q4 2006 to its worst levels since 1991 with home owners struggling to service mortgages.

The RICS affordability index worsened by 8.5% in 2006 and has worsened by almost 70% since the low point in 1996.

RICS estimates that a two person household on average incomes would have to spend 22% of their take home pay to service their mortgage, up from the low point of 13.5% in 1996.

With expected interest rate increases, repossessions could be prevalent in 2007.

The index also shows affordability worsened further in the second half of 2006 as mortgage repayments became a greater share of take home pay than at any time since Q4 1991.

David Stubbs, senior economist at RICS, says: “Spiralling house prices have created a property glass ceiling for many first-time buyers.

With couples needing nearly 82% of joint take home income to fund the upfront buying costs of a typical home, the government’s plans to create an inclusive society seem like a pipe dream.

Unless the government builds more affordable housing, and raises the Stamp Duty threshold, many households will continue to struggle to access the housing market.

Affordability conditions will also continue to worsen with the MPC expected to raise interest rates in February.

However, many households will still be watching Januarys interest rate decision with keen interest.”

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