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Mortgages most affordable in decade
Cheaper mortgage deals have helped keep payments for new borrowers at their most affordable levels for a decade, research by a major lender has found.
Typical mortgage payments for both first-time buyers and home movers have plummeted to 28% of average incomes, from a peak of 48% in 2007, said the study by Halifax.
The average monthly mortgage payment for someone with a 30% deposit is £580, while the typical take-home wage is £2,062.
Camden in north London was named as the UK's least affordable area, with mortgage payments taking up 56.5% of take-home pay for new borrowers. Copeland in the North West was found to be the most affordable, with mortgage payments typically standing at 14.9% of disposable earnings.
The half-yearly study said that across the UK, the share of wages taken up by mortgage payments has held steady at 28% since mid-2011.
Lenders have been slashing their mortgage rates in recent months following the launch of a Government Funding for Lending scheme giving banks access to cheap finance. However, Halifax said this has resulted in the share of income spent on mortgage payments also remaining steady rather than falling further because the cheaper deals have been balanced out by house prices edging up.
Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said: "It is still early days for the Funding for Lending scheme, but there is evidence that mortgage affordability is increasing, as rates are down by 0.5% in recent months. However, the impact on affordability isn't as positive as it could have been, as house prices slightly increased at the end of 2012."
Halifax said that mortgage payments have fallen by at least a quarter as a proportion of average earnings in 95% of local authority areas since 2007. Some 25 areas have recorded improvements of 50% or more.
Regionally, mortgage payments are the most affordable in Northern Ireland, which has seen strong house price falls in recent years, taking up 20% of take-home pay on average. Mortgage payments for Londoners take up 36% of their take-home pay, making this region the least affordable.
Scotland is the second most affordable region, with payments taking up 22% of wages, while mortgages in Wales are also cheaper than the UK average, taking up 27% of average take-home pay.