Many homeowners may have benefitted from low interest rates, but they are currently facing their highest household costs for three years.
New research by Halifax shows that the cost of owning and running a home in the UK has risen to its highest level since 2008.
Over the last 12 months, the average annual cost associated with owning and running a home rose by 1.4% from £8,956 in March 2010 to £9,083 in March 2011.
It is the highest total since March 2008, when homeowners in the UK faced a yearly bill averaging just more than £9,400.
People have seen their costs increase across the board in the last year, but it is the sharp hike in utility bills that have really bitten.
Charges for electricity and gas have shot up by almost £70 in the last year, and consumers can expect that to rise again over the next 12 months, British Gas recently warned.
While savers have bemoaned low interest rates over the last couple of years, they have eased the pressure on a great many homeowners.
In fact,the fall in housing expenses over the past three years was driven entirely by the substantial decline in mortgage payments.
The average mortgage rate paid by existing borrowers fell from 5.80% to 3.49% between March 2008 and March 2011 – equating to an average yearly saving of £956.
If mortgage costs were excluded from the figures then the cost of running a home would have increased by 13% between in the last three years, greater than the rise in inflation over the same period (10%).
In addition, those paying rent rather than a mortgage have seen their housing costs rise by 10% over the same period.
"Household finances remain under pressure with the significant drop in mortgage payments since 2008 mostly offset by increases in other household bills," said Suren Thiru, housing economist at Halifax.
"Rising utility bills have been a clear driver behind this, along with increases in maintenance costs and council tax charges. The current strain on household finances is particularly concerning at a time when earnings growth remains weak."
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