South Ayrshire most affordable for scrimping first-time buyers

First-time buyers are more likely to put a roof over their heads in South Ayrshire as it is named the most affordable area in both Scotland and the UK.

South Ayrshire clinched the top spot in the Bank of Scotland First-Time Buyer Review with an average house price of under 2.5 percent of average annual earnings – beating neighbours East and North Ayrshire, which came fifth and seventh at 2.85 and 2.89 percent respectively.

In a year which saw first-buyer numbers in Scotland increase by just over a fifth on 2011, the nation was also named the third most affordable area in the UK for first-time buyers – moving up a position from last year.

93 percent of the country’s council areas surveyed were classed as affordable – an increase of nearly 20 percent since 2011 and almost double the UK average of 54 percent.

Scotland was beaten only by the North West of England, where 97 percent of homes are affordable, and the North East of England - the only area with 100 percent affordability.

Reacting the news of South Ayrshire’s success, council leader Bill McIntosh said he would encourage anyone to move to the area, which he said offers “a wonderful place to live and work”.

But Director at Galloway and Ayrshire Properties on Girvan’s Dalrymple Street, Tom Murray – who has been practising in the town for 20 years - warned that while the figures look good for first-time buyers, lenders are still reluctant to help them fund their new homes.

“We have first-time buyers come in and leave confident, but when they then speak to the lenders and there are problems,” he said.

“Generally in this corner the market is very affordable, but the key is for that first-time buyer to be able to unlock the mortgage required to go forward.”

Nitesh Patel, a housing economist at Bank of Scotland, agreed. He said: “With first-time buyers forming a vital part of the Scottish housing market, it is clearly encouraging that the number of those getting onto the property ladder for the first time may well increase this year, albeit from a historically low level.

“However, the continued uncertainty over the outlook for the Scottish economy and the difficulties faced by many in raising the necessary deposit remain significant hurdles for those wishing to buy their first home.”