Should first time buyers in St Albans worry about increasing house prices?

A sold sign on the streets of St Albans

A sold sign on the streets of St Albans - Credit: Archant

The property market is notoriously fraught with complexities for first time buyers. Whilst this is the case all over the UK, how are things faring in St Albans?

Last year St Albans had the fastest growing property market in the country, surpassing the capital with an overwhelming 24 percent rise in house prices. The Nationwide Building Society reports that countrywide house prices have risen by a further 0.3 percent this summer, adding to the total increase of 3.2 percent in 2015 so far.

For the majority of homeowners, an increase in housing value is something to be celebrated. For the next generation of homeowners however, an upsurge in property prices, however high or low, can have a knock on effect – with many young first time buyers finding it difficult to stay in St Albans.

24-year-old Eve Carroll settled in St Albans for work after studying at Hertfordshire University, but eventually moved back to her native Manchester due to increasing rental costs. “I did move back to the north to save money. I had to take on a second job and worked every hour under the sun. The costs of renting were very demeaning to my social life once I’d paid bills and so on” Eve recalls. “In St Albans I was in a two bedroom, unfurnished flat, over an abandoned social club. It was £1,000 per month. I’m now in Manchester and we pay just under £900 for a three bedroom, furnished flat in a really nice area.”

St Albans native Rachel Smith had a similar experience: “I am currently living with my boyfriend whilst looking for somewhere of my own. It can be quite a disappointing realisation that you aren’t going to find somewhere in your hometown or where you grew up.”

The Office for National Statistics found in 2013 that over 3.3 million adults in the UK aged between 20 and 34 were living with a parent – a total of 26 percent of the age group. “Being 20 and in my first well paid job, not only is it nearly impossible to be granted a mortgage, but there simply aren’t any properties on the market that are suitable in price,” Rachel continues.

Statistics provided by Zoopla have identified that, on average, homes across Britain have seen an increase of 6.7 percent in value over the last six months. This is an estimated £6,974 increase in value between January and the start of July. This has left first time buyers in the area struggling to put together sufficient funds for hefty deposits - despite the 2013 introduction of Government scheme Help to Buy.

Most Read

One option that many young people resort to is living further away from the workplace. Local Bar Manager Steve Elliott, 23, travelled a total of 36 miles every day to get to work. Commuting is becoming increasingly enticing - Steve has found there is better value for money in areas such as Great Kimble and Luton. “St Albans is a very sought after town and people are willing to pay extortionate prices for properties here,” he says. “By living further afield you get cheaper housing without compromising the quality.”

Despite being a firm favourite with London commuters, house prices are dictating to some St Albans residents whether they can remain in the area or not, with many looking at alternative housing options such as renting as a way to combat the problem.

Regardless of this, Nationwide today issued a further report stating that property prices are growing at their slowest annual pace for two years, lending to the Bank of England’s delay in rising interest rates. The back-and-forth behaviour of the climate has nudged financial markets into pushing back their expectations for the first rate rise from February next year to May. Erratic activity like this can make it difficult for new house hunters to know where they stand - be it in St Albans or anywhere else in the UK.