Bath is the best city for first-time buyers

Michael Lloyd

March 12, 2019

Bath is the best place for first-time buyers to get onto the property ladder, comparison site MoneySuperMarket’s First Time Buyer Index has found.

The report ranks 35 cities against six important factors for first-time buyers, looking at job opportunities, average salary, disposable income, rate of contents theft and average cost of a one-bedroom property.

While Bath has moved from second to first place over the last year, due in part to an improvement in job opportunities, London remains in last place, thanks to sky-high property prices and a higher-than-average rate of contents theft.

Rachel Wait, consumer affairs spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket, said: “For many, buying your first property is one of life’s great milestones and can be incredibly exciting.

“However, as is the case with any financial decision you make, it pays to think carefully about your budget and do your own research before committing to anything.

“As well as looking at house prices in your area of choice, measures such as crime rates and local job opportunities can help inform your decision and ensure you’re in the location best suited to you.

“It’s also important to start thinking about your credit score, as mortgage lenders will check your credit history to see whether you’re a reliable borrower and will use this and its affordability assessment to decide how much you can borrow.

“Despite uncertain political times, it’s refreshing to see that the first-time buyer market has continued to grow in the UK, rising 1.9% from 2017 to 20181. This is in part thanks to successful government schemes such as Help to Buy.

“If buyers are willing to be flexible, they can stand a better chance of buying somewhere they can afford, without sacrificing a good standard of living. Shopping around for the best mortgage is also crucial, to make sure you’re on a plan that works for you.”

Wolverhampton came in second, up one place from last year’s report. Chester is up five places to third, helped by an increase in job opportunities.

Last year’s best place for first-time buyers, Oxford, dropped from first to eighth place due to its high contents theft rate, which is up from 12.2 to 30.5 per 1,000 capita.

AbeIn fourth place, Aberdeen was ranked fourth, 16 places ahead of its Scottish neighbour Glasgow.

With a relatively low contents theft rate, higher than average disposable income, and good property prices, Aberdeen is a great option for first-time buyers who can get a one-bedroom property for an average of £93,600.

Despite having the highest rate of contents theft amongst the top five locations, Derby’s low property prices and relatively high disposable income pushed it into the top five.

Despite good earning potential and high disposable income, London was ranked bottom for the second year in a row. The average price for a one-bedroom property decreased from £513,084 (2018) to £486,924 (2019), which is still £355,094 above the national average.

Dropping six places, the average annual salary and disposable income in Birmingham has decreased by 22%, leaving this city as the second worst for first-time buyers across the UK.

Sheffield has relatively few job opportunities, with 2.54 jobs per 100 capita, significantly behind other Midlands and Yorkshire cities, such as Nottingham (5.56) and Wakefield (6.19).

Affordable housing saves Sheffield from coming in last place, with it being the cheapest city to buy a house out of the bottom five. Sheffield also has one of the highest content theft rates in the country.

Leicester’s average annual salary has seen a significant drop, from £30,576 to £24,300 over the past year. With the cost of a one-bedroom property going up from £101,554 to £109,420, Leicester remains one of the least attractive options for first-time buyers.

With one of the highest rates of contents theft (26.4 per capita), beaten only by Oxford (30.5) and up from 17.7 last year, Edinburgh dropped seven places, leaving it as one of the worst options for first-time buyers.

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