East's most affordable area for first time buyers revealed

Craig and David Rowland-Barnes, at their new home in Ormesby; James Askew and his partner Amber De Pasquale and the home...

Clockwise, from left: Craig and David Rowland-Barnes, at their new home in Ormesby; James and his partner Amber and the home they bought at Bluebell Meadow in Bradwell. - Credit: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

The most affordable area in the east of England for people buying their first home has been revealed as Great Yarmouth.

Research from Nationwide Building Society shows the most and least affordable areas for first-time buyers in Norfolk and Waveney, with communities on the coast exhibiting the widest regional variation in property prices compared to earnings. 

Nationwide calculated the typical first-time buyer house price to earnings ratios (HPER) in local areas across Britain, using Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

Commenting on the figures, Andrew Harvey, senior economist for Nationwide, said: “Our recent Affordability Report identified there had been a significant widening in the gap between the least affordable and most affordable regions. However, there is also considerable variation within regions."

A house on the Persimmon development Bluebell Meadow in Bradwell.

A house on the Persimmon development Bluebell Meadow in Bradwell. - Credit: Submitted

In Great Yarmouth, the typical price for a house was 4.5 times average earnings.

For context, the number is still above that required for a property to be considered affordable housing, where the price should be no more than three to three and a half times a buyer's income.

In North Norfolk, the least affordable area in the region, the average house price was seven times more than local earnings.

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By comparison, the most affordable place in Britain was East Ayrshire in Scotland, at 2.3, while, unsurprisingly, the most expensive neighbourhood was Kensington and Chelsea, in London, at a ratio of 16.8.

In light of the figures, we spoke to some people who have recently bought their first homes in Great Yarmouth borough.

Craig and David Rowland-Barnes, at their new home in Ormesby

Craig and David Rowland-Barnes, at their new home in Ormesby. - Credit: Submitted

'We're happy to be back on the coast'

David and Craig Rowland-Barnes bought a house last year at a Persimmon development in Ormesby.

David, 41, said they were initially meant to move in June but due to coronavirus the date was pushed back and they eventually got the keys in November.

He said the whole experience was "great".

"We had no issues. We had been saving for a couple of years and we knew we wanted to move eventually. My sister moved to the development first and that pricked our attention. We went to the salespeople and looked at some plots and found one we liked."

David, a self-professed "Gorleston boy", moved to Norwich for work where he is employed at Evander, a glazing and security business.

His husband Craig, 37, works for the same company.

"We had a ten-year plan to save," David said. "It wasn't until my sister moved in though I thought, we're going home. It's a brilliant location, because we're avid walkers, and the house itself is amazing.

"We're happy to be back on the coast," he added.

"When we initially started, we were just call centre advisers, but we worked our way up over the years and now work in management, that has helped to pump more into our savings."

The couple also used 'Help to Buy', a government scheme allowing first-time buyers a 20pc equity loan on a new-build home and a 5pc deposit.

James Askew and Amber De Pasquale

James Askew and Amber De Pasquale bought a new house on Bluebell Meadow in Bradwell last year. - Credit: Submitted

'It was a spur of the moment thing'

James and his partner Amber moved to a four-bedroom house on Bluebell Estate in Bradwell in December.

James, 30, said he and his partner had been together for only a short amount of time but decided to "jump in with both feet".

"We were going to rent, then Covid hit, and we decided to look into buying instead. It was a spur of the moment thing."

James wanted to stress how lucky they were and that they were not a typical case in an area where low incomes can mean that properties, despite their relative affordability, remain too expensive for some.

"We were very fortunate. We both had savings and went in 50/50. We were surprised how easy it was," James said.

The house cost £280,000 and they moved in a week before Christmas but immediately had to self-isolate for ten days as Amber had tested positive for coronavirus.

House Prince to Earnings ratios across Norfolk and Waveney

Great Yarmouth - 4.5

King's Lynn and West Norfolk - 5.2

Norwich - 5.7

East Suffolk - 5.7

Breckland - 5.9

South Norfolk - 6.3

Broadland - 6.6

North Norfolk - 7