All our branches are now open. Health and safety remains our main priority, and in line with government’s advice, a number of strict measures have been put in place to protect our staff and customers

'Rural homes more expensive than urban ones'

'Rural homes more expensive than urban ones'

There is a rural premium in all regions with countryside homes typically commanding a significant price premium over urban homes, according to the latest research from Halifax.

While a rural premium exists in all regions it differs significantly, ranging from £86,218 in the South East to £11,570 in the North East. In percentage terms, the premium varies from 59% in the West Midlands to 9% in the North East.

In the past four years, the average price of a home in the countryside has risen by 2% compared with an average 10% increase in urban areas. While prices have risen more rapidly in urban areas in most regions since 2009, a key factor behind the bigger increase in urban house prices has been the relative strength of prices in Greater London.  Excluding London, urban prices have risen by 6%.

The recent outperformance of house prices in urban areas may also partly reflect the overall increase in the number of first-time buyers since 2010 as they represent a larger proportion of the market in urban areas. Over the same period, there has been a modest decline in the number of those moving home; a group that is more important in rural property markets.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: "There is a significant premium on property in the countryside across Great Britain. Country living remains a widespread aspiration, but relatively high prices put rural homes out of the reach for many. Potential first-time buyers are particularly affected by high property prices, and consequently they account for a smaller proportion of homebuyers in the countryside than in urban areas."

Affordability is a key issue in many rural areas. The average house price in the countryside is equivalent to 6.3 times gross annual average earnings. The comparable ratio for urban areas is 4.9.

There are only five rural areas where the ratio of prices to earnings is below the historical long-term average of 4.0. Copeland in Cumbria (2.7), Stirling (3.4), East Ayrshire (3.5), Western Isles (3.7), and Pendle in Lancashire (3.9) are the most affordable rural areas in the country.

Cotswold is the least affordable rural area in Britain - measured by the house price to earnings ratio - with an average house price that is 9.4 times local gross annual average earnings. Six of the ten least affordable rural areas in the country are in the South West.

Chiltern is the most expensive rural area in Britain with an average house price of £407,012. This is more than four times higher than in the least expensive rural area - East Ayrshire where the average price is £100,119.

First-time buyers account for 40% of all mortgage financed purchases in rural areas This is significantly lower than in urban areas where first-time buyers account for more than half (52%) of such purchases.

Getting on the rural property ladder is at its most challenging for first-time buyers in southern England. First-time buyers account for only a quarter of all purchases in Cotswold and East Hampshire.

In contrast, first-time buyers account for over half of all purchases in Copeland, St Edmundsbury, Pendle, Western Isles, Fenland, Moray, North Warwickshire and Carmarthenshire.