Oxford has been ranked the least affordable place for first time buyers in the UK outside London in 2020.

The city raked 12th behind 11 London boroughs in research published by the Halifax which listed places by affordability based on the house price to average earnings ratio. Oxford had a ratio of 10.3.

Slough ranked 14th with a ratio of 10.0 while Islington topped the table with 11.9. Bottom was Burnley in Lancashire on a ratio of 3.1 although most of the more affordable areas were in Scotland.

The report showed the average price paid by a first-time buyer in the UK last year was £256,057, up by £22,939 from 2019.

The average deposit put down by a first-time buyer nationwide in 2020 was £57,278, compared to £46,449 in 2019.

Simon McConnell, head of residential sales for Carter Jonas at Oxford, said: “The Oxford housing market has remained unusually buoyant in 2020 despite the volatility and we have seen price increases during the year fuelled by the stamp duty holiday, the finalising of the Brexit  negotiations.

“These factors certainly haven’t helped the affordability for first time buyers within Oxford.  The upcoming changes to the Help to Buy Scheme and the relative lack of new build supply do not help the situation either. 

“Buyers are therefore encouraged to consider the outlying towns where prices are a little more affordable. Whether there is a slight softening in prices in 2021 remains to be seen as some home owners swap the city for less crowded suburban locations.”

Halifax managing director Russell Galley said: “Whilst these figures confirm the almost inevitable fall in the overall number of first-time buyers in 2020 – with the entire housing market effectively shuttered during the first national lockdown – they also underline just how strong the bounce back was in the second half of the year.

“Despite the obvious challenges presented by soaring house prices, not least the need to raise an even bigger deposit, first-time buyers still accounted for half of all home purchases, a reassuring statistic given their overall importance to the market.

“However, with the economic impact of the pandemic likely to be felt most keenly by the young and those in lower-paid jobs, the need to prioritise improved housing availability and affordability for all those looking to make that first step onto the property ladder becomes ever greater.”

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