Rural homes in Britain on average 20% more expensive than property in urban areas

In Britain rural homes are 20% more expensive than those in urban areas with Waverley in the South East of England the most expensive, new research shows.

Over homes in the country are £44,454 or 20% more expensive on average than in urban areas with the most expensive average £487,824 in Waverley, according to the latest annual Halifax Rural Housing Review.

Whilst a rural premium exists across the country, the research found substantial differences with the greatest in the West Midlands where the average house price in rural areas at £280,776 is £89,272 or 47% higher than in the region’s urban areas at £191,504. The smallest difference is in the East of England where there average premium on countryside homes drops to £27,765 or 9%.

When it comes to affordability there is a North South divide with all 10 of the least affordable rural local authority districts are in southern England and overall the property price in rural areas is 7.6 times average annual earnings compared with a ratio of 6.5 in urban areas.

North Dorset is the least affordable rural district with an average house price of £361,603, some 11.4 times local annual average earnings of £31,723. The second least affordable area is Chichester with and average house price of £411,547, 10.8 times local earnings, followed by West Oxfordshire at 9.9.

The analysis suggests that those wishing to escape to the country on a more manageable budget should look to the most affordable rural districts in the north of England and Scotland.
Copeland and East Ayrshire are the most affordable rural districts in Britain, where the average house price is 4.1 times local average gross annual earnings.

The research also reveal that urban property values have risen more rapidly than rural over the past five years. Between 2012 and 2017, the average price of a countryside home rose by 31% compared with an average increase of 43% in urban areas, resulting in the urban-rural premium gap narrowing from 31% or £47,769 in 2012 to 20% or £44,454 in 2017.

Despite this, the rate of growth for both urban and rural areas has been the same at 3% over the past year.

‘Home owners looking to escape to the country can expect to pay an average premium of 20% for a property. Housing affordability, particularly in the south of England, is putting a country home out of reach for many people, especially those looking to buy their first property. This is reflected in first time buyers accounting for a smaller proportion of home buyers in the countryside relative to urban areas,’ said Richard Washington, mortgages director at the Halifax.

The least affordable rural local authority districts outside the South and Eastern England are Malvern Hills (8.0) and South Northamptonshire (8.0) in the West and East Midlands.

Waverley in the South East is the most expensive rural area in Britain with an average house price of £487,824. This is followed by Sevenoaks at £453,458, South Oxfordshire at £434,544 and Uttlesford at £433,934 while East Ayrshire in Scotland is the cheapest rural district in the country at £128,864.

Getting on the rural property ladder is at its most challenging for first-time buyers in southern England, where they only make up a quarter of all purchases in the Cotswolds and East Devon and 26% in Chichester and 27% in Uttlesford.

The proportion of first time buyers is significantly higher in some areas outside the South, accounting for 64% of buyers in Forest Heath in Suffolk, 55% in Dumfries and Galloway and the Western Isles and 53% in Moray.