Average wage doesn’t match average cost of a Mid Ulster home

Builders on a building site. Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Builders on a building site. Ben Birchall/PA Wire

A mortgage for the average home in Mid Ulster is out of reach for a single person bringing home the district’s average wage.

A new report from Ulster University said the average cost of a house in the area is now £142,321 - an increase of exactly 14.7% in the last year.

This now means that a single worker earning an average local wage - which is £425 a week according to Mid Ulster District Council (£22,100/ year) - could not afford to buy a home.

Mortgages are now typically based on four and half times a person or couple’s income.

So a person on their own could borrow between £71,000 and £99,000 depending on their credit rating. But according to Money Saving Expert, the top mortgage offered on this wage would swallow a quarter of their pre-tax income for 25 years.

Waiting lists for social accommodation in Mid Ulster also suggest that single people are the hardest hit in this sector. Forty per cent of all those who applied for a social home in Mid Ulster in March 2015 were single, but just 144 of the 767 applicants got one.

The Housing Executive also said in its 2015-2019 report that singles and small families are the most prominent groups in need, making up 74% of those in housing stress.

Bucking the trend of a downturn in house prices across the majority of Northern Ireland may be good news for sellers in Mid Ulster, but for those trying to get on the housing ladder, not so much.

William Thompson, Head of Consumer Banking NI at Bank of Ireland UK said: “At around £23,000, the average income in Mid Ulster is slightly below the Northern Ireland average, but residential property transactions are typically mortgaged on two incomes.

“The latest Council of Mortgage Lenders data for the region indicates the average First Time Buyer income is now just under £32,000 and around £46,000 for movers.

“The data also shows that 60% of all loans to First Time Buyers were less than £125,000 and 57% of loans to home movers below £175,000.

“Bank of Ireland UK offers a range of attractive mortgages, including up to a 95% Loan-to-Value, which supports borrowers who can afford a mortgage and find it difficult to save the necessary deposit.”