Comment: St Albans and the impossible dream of home ownership

Buying property in St Albans is beyond the reach of many

Buying property in St Albans is beyond the reach of many - Credit: Archant

There are many words you could use to describe St Albans, but ‘affordable’ definitely wouldn’t be one of them.

House prices have long been an issue in the city, more so now than ever. When I first arrived in 2002 I was shocked at the poor VFM on offer – prices had risen enormously in the preceding years, but it turns out – oh, hindsight – we were actually living the dream. If only we’d known it at the time we might have been able to appreciate it slightly.

Because in the years since that dream has turned into a nightmare for anyone wishing to buy their first home.

House prices have risen by 150 per cent in St Albans since 2002, when the average property cost just £208,000. Salary increases have failed to keep up, rising by 37 per cent (£10,680) on average during the same period.

The early noughties weren’t all that, however. To give some perspective, when we bought our first house in 2003 it was for nearly three times the price our vendors had paid less than seven years earlier. We know we’ve been incredibly lucky to buy at all, but those that went before had it even easier.

For those struggling to get on that first rung on the property ladder now, and for those like us whose children are unlikely to be able to buy property in their hometown in the future, the news is even more depressing. We revealed last week that the average St Albans househunter now needs 13 times their annual income to buy a home. 13 times!

This revelation was based on Office for National Statistics data which said that the average house price in St Albans was £520,000 last year, while the average annual salary was £39,823. It’s a depressing picture and, sadly, it’s only likely to get bleaker.