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First-time buyers in London four years older than in north

Londoners buying first home are three years older than UK average – but northerners more likely to be in mortgage arrears

The average first-time homebuyer in London is now 32, four years older than the average across northern England, Wales and Scotland, demonstrating the growing divide in prices.

The average across the UK is 29, the Halifax said in a report published on Saturday, which revealed wide regional variations. In Harrow, in north-west London, the average first-time buyer is 34, while in Selby in Yorkshire, the average age is just 25.

The national average first-time buyer age of 29 has only risen by one year since 1983, despite Land Registry figures showing property prices in England and Wales rose by 161% between January 1995 and July 2011 alone. Halifax said a sharp rise in parental support to help people buy their first property had kept the average age down.

In Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees in the north-east, Barrow-in-Furness and South Ribble in the north-west, Bolsover in the east Midlands, and Bridgend in Wales the average age first-time buyer is between 26 and 27.

Halifax said lower house prices outside London, coupled with a low ratio of earnings to property prices in some areas, had created the gap. “In London and many areas of the south-east, the time needed to save up for a deposit can be lengthy, resulting in first-time buyers who are typically several years older than in the rest of the country,” said Nitesh Patel, a housing economist at the mortgage lender.

“In northern England, house prices are typically lower both in absolute terms and in relation to earnings, helping to limit the size of the deposit needed.”

An average property in Selby costs £114,113 or 2.9 times salary, whereas a buyer in Harrow would need £262,634 and pay an average 6.5 times their income.

Last month the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said mortgage borrowers in the north of the UK are more likely to be in arrears and negative equity than those in the south, and the divide is likely to grow as government spending cuts take affect. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds