Comment: No right to buy for St Albans’ young people

Priced out: Many young people can't afford to buy locally

Priced out: Many young people can't afford to buy locally - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A few years ago a friend sold his two-bed house in St Albans for just shy of half a million. We were all amazed. Three years on, and similar character cottages in the town centre are for sale for £650,000. £500k suddenly seems like a bargain!

For people looking to leave London for the suburban idyll, these prices may seem reasonable – but for many of those who’ve grown up here, they remain ridiculously out of reach.

In this week’s feature, Will Mata spoke to several young people for whom buying locally is an impossibility. I wonder how many of them are children of ex-Londoners who followed their dreams of fab state schools and fresh suburban air north along the train line, only to find, many years later, that their kids can’t afford to stay?

Those of us who are slightly, ahem, older, had the chance to buy before things got too crazy. I bought my first house in 2003, a property that’s now worth about double what I paid for it. My annual income has hardly changed during those 14 years, meaning I’d have no chance of buying it now.

Despite the tumultuous political climate, prices continue to rise. In the last few weeks we’ve learned that home owners in the East of England (which includes Herts) have ‘enjoyed’ the biggest house price increases in England and Wales. Prices have gone up by 5.3 per cent in a year and 2.8 per cent in the last month! Salaries aren’t moving at the same rate, however.

So what hope do young people earning average incomes have of buying property in and around St Albans? Sadly for many of them, being able to buy in their own hometown - without major help from the Bank of Mum and Dad - seems unlikely to ever be a reality.