Homes 'earned more than their owners in 18% of areas over past two years'

Homes in nearly a fifth of UK local authority districts have "earned" more than their owners over the past two years, research from Halifax suggests.

Halifax compared rising property values against people's average take-home earnings across the two-year period of 2016 and 2017 to make the findings.

It found that house price growth in Barnet in London, outpaced average earnings by £52,256 over the two-year period - the highest difference in the survey.

North Hertfordshire had the second biggest gap, at £40,903, while Canterbury, Guildford and Oxford were also places where house prices have surged particularly far ahead of average earnings.

The proportion of areas where house prices are outpacing earnings has fallen, from 31% in 2016 to 18% in 2017, Halifax said.

The report also highlighted a continued north/south divide, with 86% of areas where the average house price rise is greater than local earnings over the past two years being in London, the South East, South West or the East of England. This share is down slightly from the last year when 93% of areas came from these four regions.

No district in the north east of England, Yorkshire and the Humber, Scotland and Northern Ireland saw average house price growth eclipse average take-home earnings over the past two years, according to Halifax's report.

Away from southern England, strong performers for house price growth compared with earnings included Harborough in the East Midlands, with house price gains of £19,662 more than earnings, as well as the Ribble Valley in the North West (£8,217), Tamworth in the West Midlands (£3,226) and Denbighshire in Wales (£793).

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: "Over the past two years, we have seen house price growth and earnings converge at a national level, leading to a drop in the total number of areas where the average house price rise is greater than owners' take-home earnings.

"Despite the slowdown in house price growth in southern England, it has still outpaced wages across most of the region. This means that middle earners are also facing a challenge getting on to the property ladder."

Here are the top 10 places where house prices have outpaced earnings across 2016 and 2017 according to Halifax, with the average increase in house prices over the two-year period followed by average take-home earnings over the two-year period and the cash difference (figures have been rounded):

1. Barnet, London, £106,896, £54,641, £52,256
2. North Hertfordshire, East of England, £95,417, £54,514, £40,903
3. Newham, London, £75,304, £45,169, £30,135
4. Worthing, South East, £73,342, £43,472, £29,871
5. Canterbury, South East, £75,798, £47,454, £28,345
6. Croydon, London, £79,064, £51,678, £27,386
7. Guildford, South East, £77,664, £54,992, £22,672
8. Oxford, South East, £71,275, £48,761, £22,513
9. Fareham, South East, £67,799, £47,571, £20,228
10. Merton, London, £73,800, £53,784, £20,016

And here are the top-performing districts in the UK's nations and regions according to Halifax, with the average two-year change in house prices followed by average take-home earnings and the difference:

- North East, Hartlepool, £28,700, £41,544, minus £12,844
- North West, Ribble Valley, £52,846, £44,630, £8,217
- Yorkshire and the Humber, York, £38,469, £41,852, minus £3,384
- East Midlands, Harborough, £73,916, £54,254, £19,662
- West Midlands, Tamworth, £44,023, £40,797, £3,226
- East of England, North Hertfordshire, £95,417, £54,514, £40,903
- London, Barnet, £106,896, £54,641, £52,256
- South East, Worthing, £73,342, £43,472, £29,871
- South West, Cheltenham, £65,511, £45,594, £19,916
- Wales, Denbighshire, £39,919, £39,126, £793
- Scotland, East Renfrewshire, £37,224, £55,433, minus £18,209
- Northern Ireland, Belfast, £24,373, £42,258 minus £17,885