Want to buy the average London home? Save more than the average salary every month

Don't waste money on food, you idiot! Image: Getty.

Good morning, Londoners! Isn’t it a lovely day? The sun is out, the air is crisp, Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted for hours and there are the first, tiny hints of spring in the air.

Yeah, well, don’t get too excited, because you’re still utterly fucked.

I mean, obviously that’s always true these days (Trump may not have tweeted yet, but he will; oh, he will). But on this occasion, the specific thing by which you are fucked is our old nemesis, the London housing market.

Let’s turn to the National Housing Federation’s Home Truths report to find out why:

House prices have become so expensive in the capital that buyers hoping to save for a typical deposit over the next four years will need to scrape together at least a staggering £2,300 every month, a new report from the National Housing Federation reveals today.

It might take you a couple of goes to take that one in, so let’s hear it again:

House prices have become so expensive in the capital that buyers hoping to save for a typical deposit over the next four years will need to scrape together at least a staggering £2,300 every month, a new report from the National Housing Federation reveals today.

Still not getting it? Let’s try focusing in on the important bit:

£2,300 every month

Oh. That’s... well, that’s quite a lot really, isn’t it?

Put it this way. The median London salary – the amount earned by the Londoner in the middle of the income distribution – was, as of April 2016, £671 per week, which is just shy of £35,000 a year. Earn that, and you receive a take home pay packet of around £2,241 a month.

So if you, as an average Londoner, save every penny you make – live on a friend’s sofa, walk to work, steal your food, never go out – you will still, at the end of the year, be around £720 short of your savings target. (This is assuming that you don’t have any student debt which, of course, you do.)

Or to put it another way: to save the money requried to buy the average London home, you need to earn more than the average London salary and not spend any of it.

Lazy millennials, blowing all their money on iPods and flat whites instead of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps like what we did. Why can’t they just work harder and stop whining?

The face of the enemy.

And get a bloody pension! Don’t want to be a burden on society do you?

Now, there are all sorts of ways in which we can fisk this one. The NHF represents housing associations: it thus has an interest in talking up the housing crisis, in an attempt to get its members more powers and freedom to address it.

The 2021 deadline is pretty arbitrary. So is the idea that first time buyers would buy as singletons rather than couples. Perhaps the biggest hole of all is the idea that they would buy “the average London home”, now worth (gulp) £563,041, rather than – as is more likely – a shoebox in a shitty area because goddamn it it’s a foot on the ladder isn’t it.

So, no. To become a first-time buyer in London, you do not literally need to be saving £2,300 a month. And to become a first-time buyer you don’t need to do it in London.

Nonetheless the fact that you can get to such a figure, even through some reductio ad absurdum fag packet maths, highlights quite how ludicrous the London housing market has become. It should not be possible, through any conventional mathematics, to come to the conclusion that you need to save more than the average income every month to have a hope of housing security in this or any other city.

Here are some other figures from the Home Truths Report which inspire much the same sort of rage:

  • To buy that average home, under current mortgage rules, you’d need a 20 per cent deposit of around £113,000;
  • Not to mention a household income of £130,000 a year;
  • The cheapest borough in the capital is Barking & Dagenham, where the mean house price is £254,183. That’s 10.1 times the average salary in the borough, or “a whole salary more than any bank is likely to lend to a couple as a mortgage”;
  • The most expensive is Kensington & Chelsea, where the average house price is now less than £40,000 off £2m. Not that it matters, really, but that’s 34.8 times the average salary in the area;
  • The rental value of the average property is now £1,727, which is 61 per cent of the average salary. Which is probably one of the reasons why...
  • Over a third of those claiming housing benefit in London are in work – because their income isn’t high enough to cover their rent.

So, to sum up, we’re all doomed.


Never mind, President Trump will be up and about soon, at which point the complete absence of long-time financial security for Londoners won’t seem like such a big problem in the scheme of things.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason.

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook.

 
 
 
 

Podcast: It’s Always Sunny...

The Liberty Bell. Image: Getty.

Once upon a time, Philadelphia was the state capital of Pennsylvania. It was also briefly the capital of the early United States, the country’s financial capital, and its largest city.

Today, it’s none of those things – even the state capital long since moved to Harrisburg, which I bet you’ve never even heard of. This no doubt has an impact on the psyche of a city that was once the most important in the US, but now struggles to make the top five.

To talk about Philly, past, present and future, I’m joined by Nathaniel Popkin. He, along with Joseph E. B. Elliott and Peter Woodall, is the author of the beautifully illustrated book, “Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City” – and had all sorts of fascinating insights into one of the United States’ more historic but lesser known cities.

Incidentally, this week, I’m recording the first ever live Skylines at the New Local Government Network conference in London’s Guildhall. If all goes to plan – If – you should be able to hear that next week. Wish us luck.

The episode itself is below. You can subscribe to the podcast on AcastiTunes, or RSS. Enjoy.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook.