Priced out of our homes

First time buyers from Sidmouth now need a mortgage of more than 12 times their salary to buy a home in East Devon.

First time buyers from Sidmouth now need a mortgage of more than 12 times their salary to buy a home in East Devon.And, in the last 10 years, house prices across the district, Teignbirdge, Mid Devon and Exeter, have together risen by a whopping 226 per cent.The figures were revealed in a report from Exeter City Council, comparing the city with neighbouring districts, seen by the Herald.They show the average salary of someone living in our district is £21,900, but the average house price is £282,000.A flat will cost around £191,000, a semi £225,000 and a detached home will cost around £402,000, it says.Councillor Jill Elson, East Devon District Council's communities portfolio holder, said the council's priorities were to increase affordable housing and to improve the economy locally, to attract more high paying companies.Miss Elson said extra council-owned land behind Waitrose at Stowford Rise would be made available to a housing association on which to build cheaper homes.The figures are in the Exeter and the Heart of Devon Economic Trends Report, available from Exeter City Council's website. They show how further pressure has been put on house prices after a total of 1,800 people moved into the district in a year. This is likely to be alleviated by the building of Cranbrook, East Devon's new town which could be the size of Seaton when it is complete.Most banks and building societies offer a mortgage of four to five times a buyer's salary, leaving singles priced out of the market and couples just able to afford a flat, and still thousands of pounds short of a small family home.First time buyers looking to find a house in Sidmouth and the surrounding area said they were up against a brick wall.Tom Ambrose, 32, said: "I toyed with the idea of buying, but it is just too expensive."I won't ever be able to find somewhere in Sidmouth on my own. I was walking through the town last week and it is just full of old rich people."Claire Gale, 27, said: "We have been looking for two-and-a-half years and have spoken to mortgage advisors, but we are being put off by the cost - it is extortionate - so we have stayed in rented accommodation."It is a catch 22 situation, you are having to pay money out in rent that you could put into a deposit."Another hopeful buyer, Joff Alexander-Frye, 22, said: "There is no way I can afford to buy anything unless I get a huge mortgage."It sends out the message that if you want to stay here you have to be a certain type of person with a certain wage and, if you don't earn that, you have to live elsewhere.Sally, who has recently bought a flat with her partner, said: "I don't think any of the banks will give a 12x salary mortgage. We had enough trouble getting a 4/5 times one!"Miss Elson added: "House prices are very, very high, and this is an attractive area to live in. We want to keep that quality of life, but also keep our young people."We have a land is chronic in Sidmouth." She said the lack of available space coupled with high demand kept pushing prices up.Jay Thorne, sales director at Harrison-Lavers and Potbury's estate agents said: "Despite what you read in the national press, I think the Sidmouth housing market has been fairly stable for three or four months."There are two markets really. We have got huge demand at the bottom end of the market, but we have got higher-end properties creating interest."If a property comes on the market at a reasonable price, it will sell in a reasonable time, there is still a huge demand from people coming here to retire, and the market is not being swamped with new homes."l If you are a first time buyer, write to us at 106 High Street, Sidmouth, EX10 8EF, or email with your experiences. Have you been searching for months without success? Has the price of property forced you to stay in the family home?

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