£100,000: the premium to buy your first home in London
We all know that houses in swanky parts of London like Kensington & Chelsea are extremely expensive. But it's not just multi-millionaires buying luxury homes in exclusive enclaves that pay a premium for property in the capital.
In fact, ordinary first-time buyers pay a shocking extra £100,000 for a London home compared to those getting on the ladder elsewhere in the UK, according to research from Halifax.
The average first-time buyer house price across London is £244,041, a massive £108,572 more than the average cost of a starter home in the rest of the UK (£135,468).
And you will have to stump up a far bigger deposit as a result - an average of £57,175 in London, twice as much as the UK average first-time buyer deposit (£27,537).
Of course, that is only the average. In popular parts of London, first-time buyers have to fork out a lot more to get on the ladder. Independent buying agent Gabby Adler, who sources properties to buy or rent in Richmond-upon-Thames, says it's even more expensive there:
"Richmond-upon-Thames is a very popular location for first-time buyers priced out of central London. Typically, they are in their late twenties or early thirties, looking to buy a two-bed flat for between £350,000 and £550,000 - considerably cheaper than the equivalent-sized property in Kensington and Chelsea."
Prices get even more expensive the more central you get. For example the average first-time buyer deposit in Camden is £145,148 – yes that's just the average deposit! This is £10,000 more than the average UK first-time buyer house at £135,468, and five times the average national first-time buyer deposit (£27,537).
Even London's cheapest Local Authority – Barking and Dagenham, has a higher average house price at £167,846 and deposit level (£29,921) for first-time buyers than the national average.
In other words, wherever you buy your first home in London, you will pay a whole lot more than those outside the capital, on average an eye-watering £100,000.
Moving within reach?
Despite this enormous premium, average first-time buyer house prices and deposits have fallen significantly in the last five years, since the peak of the property market. So in theory prices are moving within reach of wannabe homeowners.
Since 2007, the average first-time buyer house price in London has fallen by £42,946 from £286,987 to £244,041. And the average deposit has dropped by £5,041, from £62,216 to £57,175 – still a hefty sum.
The greatest falls have been seen in leafy Greenwich, where the average first-time buyer home has fallen 14% to £200,946.
However, aspiring homeowners in Harrow will be disheartened to hear that prices there have moved further out of their reach in the last five years, having risen by 8% to an average £285,334.
Mortgage freeze thawing
One of the biggest complaints from first-time buyers in recent years has been about the struggle to access mortgage finance, as lenders ask for larger deposits and are increasingly stringent about checking the affordability of potential purchasers.
This is more difficult for first-time buyers in London often who need to borrow big.
But despite the high prices, the perception of a lack of mortgage finance is much worse than the reality, and there are options for first-time buyers, according to Stephen Noakes, mortgage director at Halifax:
"Our research shows that only four in every 10 people think they could get a mortgage, yet we accept eight out of every 10 applications. The mortgage market in London isn't what it used to be, but it isn't as bad as many people think - lenders are still lending. In the past year alone we've provided over £1.5bn in mortgages to 9,500 first-time buyers in Greater London."
Indeed, in the last few weeks there's been some much-needed competition in the mortgage market for aspiring homeowners, as the Government's Funding for Lending scheme seems to be encouraging lenders to offer better deals to those with a small deposit.
Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, explains: "The deposit is the biggest barrier to home ownership for many would-be first-time buyers, so it is hoped that the Funding for Lending scheme will have a positive impact, enabling lenders to offer cheaper rates to those with modest deposits. The early signs are encouraging, with the Co-operative Bank stating that it was able to offer a two-year fix pegged at 3.99% with no fee as a direct result of the scheme.
"Clearly, London is a special case because homes are much more expensive than in the rest of the country and the vast majority of first-time buyers we deal with have financial assistance from their parents or grandparents. Lenders could do more to help people buying in the capital, appreciating that it is much more difficult."