Homes are at their most affordable level in a decade, a new study reveals.
Halifax's First-time Buyer Review shows that the proportion of UK towns and cities that are affordable for first time buyers (FTBs) has risen to its highest level since 2002.
The figures reveal a 40% increase in affordability, with the average price paid by a first time buyer in June 2012 being affordable for someone on average earnings in over half (54%) of local authority regions in the UK.
This compares with only 7% of regions that were affordable at the height of the housing market in 2007.
Meanwhile, Halifax estimates that the number of FTBs has risen by a third in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period last year, from 85,600 to 114,000.
However, the report does reveal the stark North/South divide in affordability.
In June 2012, only 9% of regions in the southern half of the UK were affordable for FTBs; while in the North, 91% of regions were affordable.
"With first-time buyers forming a vital part of the housing market, it is clearly encouraging that the number of those getting onto the property ladder for the first time may well increase this year, albeit from a historically low level," said Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis.
"This partly reflects the substantial improvement in home affordability for first-time buyers since 2007, following the fall in house prices over the period.
"However, the continued uncertainty over the outlook for the UK economy and the difficulties faced by many in raising the necessary deposit remain significant hurdles for those wishing to buy their first home."
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