Despite strong levels of activity and price growth across the housing markets since the start of the pandemic, the path to home ownership for first-time buyers has only become steeper.
Over the past 18 months lenders have tended to favour less risky, lower loan to value lending, making it harder for new buyers to access the market for the first time without assistance.
While we expect lending at a higher loan to value ratio to continue to be available, slowly rising interest rates will act as a brake on affordability, while rising costs of living, increased national insurance and the prospect of a lower threshold for student loan repayments will make saving for a deposit all the more challenging.
As a result, typical first-time buyer hotspots are shifting, with more looking to locations that are further afield.
To help these buyers with their search, we have devised a metric to find the best places to live for first-time buyers by looking at the top half of the deprivation index for each region (which looks at education achievement and life expectancy) and ranking the locations by best transport links, affordability and the employment rate.
With our ranked list of locations, we then took the average value of the lowest quarter of the least expensive homes, to find our first-time buyer hotspots.
In London, Bromley, came out top. The cheapest homes here cost £375,000, and the prices for flats has remained relatively flat over the past year. However, those looking for more value should head to second place hotspot, neighbouring Bexley, where average prices are 15 per cent less at £320,000.
For the South West, Swindon in Wiltshire ranked top. The best value homes here cost around £180,000 - 39 per cent lower than Tonbridge and Malling in Kent, which came top in the South East.
Broadland, home to the Norfolk Broads and near the Norfolk coast, came top in the East of England. The cheapest homes here cost £220,125.
To the North West, Eden, on the fringe of the Lake District, is placed top. Here first-time buyers can buy a home from £160,000. But better value for money can be found in Redcar and Cleveland in the North East. This is the cheapest first-time buyer hotspot on the list, with the least expensive homes costing an average of £95,500.
Selby, where the lowest priced homes cost £165,000, was the top first-time buyer hotspot in Yorkshire. However buyers who would prefer to be closer to amenities should opt for Leeds where the least expensive homes are on average £155,000.
The West Midlands is home to the second and third top local authorities for first-time buyers in more rural areas: North Warwickshire and the Staffordshire Moorlands. The most affordable homes here cost £165,250 and £148,750 respectively.
The East Midlands is also home to some of the best places in the country for first-time buyers. Prices in High Peak in Derbyshire and Hinckley and Bosworth in Leicestershire start at £159,975, and although predominately rural, they boast some of the highest employment rates.