First-time buyers in Wales are being forced to wait up to 15 years to save up enough to get on the housing ladder, we can reveal.
Statistics show huge variation between council areas for those looking to buy their first home – with single people in Ceredigion and Powys waiting more than 15 years before they can afford to buy in the area.
Housing charity Shelter Cymru warned people were being priced off the housing ladder for longer and longer thanks to the “depressing picture” of the Welsh market, with second home owners pushing house prices beyond income levels in the area.
The figures revealed the easiest place to buy was in Merthyr Tydfil, where it would take seven years and five months for a single person but a couple with no children could save for a deposit in two years and eight months.
However it would take longer for couples with one child to save – at an average of eight years and one month.
On average, single people in Wales have to wait 10 years and four months to be able to afford a deposit, a couple with one child have to wait nine years and two months, while a childless couple must wait four years and four months.
It would take first time buyers in Ceredigion the longest to save up for a house – 15 years and four months for single people, six years and seven months for couples who both work full time and 13 years and 10 months for a couple with a child.
Powys also saw a wait of 15 years and one month for a single person
The figures were calculated by WalesOnline after research was produced by Shelter England, which last month warned young people were being “locked out” of the English property market with waits of up to 14 years for single people.
If the Welsh statistics were compared directly to the English cities cited in the research, it would rank towards the more affordable end of the spectrum.
Shelter revealed earlier this week the number of families renting their home had doubled over the past 10 years, as more people are priced out of home ownership.
John Puzey, director of Shelter Cymru, said the figures represented a “depressing picture” of the housing market in Wales.
“For a long time, houses were viewed as investments rather than homes and as a result we ended up with a completely unsustainable situation where the costs of buying a home far outstripped average earnings,” he said.
“This situation is particularly acute in areas such as Ceredigion, where wages are often lower and a thriving second home market has pushed housing costs even higher compared to average incomes.
“When this is combined with a long-standing shortage of affordable homes in the social rented sector, it’s not surprising that people are forced to wait for years on end to be able to afford to buy their own home.”
He added: “The situation in Wales will also be helped by the clear targets set for increasing the supply of affordable homes, which could well be exceeded thanks to the deal being done by RCT homes to build 11,000 new homes in Wales over the next seven years.
“If this works out, it could provide a model for future investment to meet the housing shortage in Wales.”
Tony Filice, RICS Wales residential spokesman and director of Kelvin Francis chartered surveyors in Cardiff, said problems arose for people living in areas where the potential incomes were matched by high values.
He said: “This will have an effect on the duration it takes to get on the ladder. In London, first-time buyers will be paying more, but will earn more. At the same time, if you are in a deprived area, effectively your income and the value of your house will be less.
“This has essentially not changed from the same point 10 or 20 years ago. It has always been hard to get your first home.
“There are many variations across Wales and there does need to be an equitable base. To be waiting 15 years is possibly at the extreme end.
He added: “It is a case where we should perhaps be looking at the Welsh Government to be doing everything to impact on affordable housing for individuals.
“The stock is something that needs to perhaps be looked at, as people cannot afford to get on the ladder.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The Welsh Government is aware of the difficulties people face today in getting onto the property ladder and in moving up it and the disparity amongst different areas. This disparity is driven by a number of factors such as house prices and level of earnings in particular areas, which are outside our control.
“We are exploring different ways in which we can provide support to all prospective home owners, including first time buyers, in addition to our existing Homebuy and Rent First schemes.
“We are committed to affordable housing while recognising that action is needed across all parts of the housing system.
“We are working closely with house builders and their representative bodies in developing equity scheme for Wales following the principles of the UK Government Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme.”