Published: 06:00, 22 August 2021
| Updated: 09:25, 23 August 2021
A growing number of Canterbury residents are seeing their bids for homes in the district gazumped by wealthier buyers from London, according to estate agents.
Instead, locals trying to get on the property ladder are having to look outside the area at cheaper towns in Thanet.
It comes after a recent study revealed the average house price in the city is nine times the majority of its residents’ annual earnings.
Paul Clarke, director of David Clarke Estate Agents, says an increasing numbers of locals are being outbid by people from the capital with deeper pockets.
“If you’re on a modest income in Canterbury and you’re looking to move to a semi-detached or detached house, I can understand that being a big leap because you’ll have people coming out of more affluent areas,” he explained.
“Potentially, they’ll have to look outside their immediate area, to areas like Ramsgate or Margate, to get on the property ladder. It is a problem.”
Out of the UK’s 69 cities, Canterbury is the 16th least affordable, according to research by Halifax.
The amount a city resident would usually fork out for a property stood at more than £365,000, while average salaries are about £40,500 per year.
City council Labour leader Dave Wilson believes a “perfect storm of circumstances has made it practically unaffordable - for many - to get onto the housing ladder or to rent”.
The Barton councillor argues that the local authority needs to build more social housing and attempt to change the definition of so-called affordable homes to battle the problem.
He said: “We’ve got 2,500 people on the housing register and we’re just not making any inroads into that at all.
“We’re meant to be encouraging people to be homeowners and to be responsible, and we’re not doing it.
“We’re making it completely impossible for large swathes of people to take that step away from their parents’ home.
“It’s not a desirable position where we have residents in the district being last in the queue for housing.”
Currently, affordable housing in the district is set at 80% of the average market value.
Cllr Wilson says charity Shelter’s definition that housing costs should be no more than 35% of the take-home pay of homeowners would be more appropriate.
But council leader Ben Fitter-Harding says the authority is powerless to change the term.
“The best way that we can help manage affordability in a desirable city like ours is to ensure good supply of a mix of housing to suit all budgets and needs,” the Conservative added.
“Canterbury’s large hospitality and services sectors depress average earnings, and there are more affordable areas to live in that are close by.
“This council will also continue to intervene to provide more housing options to those in our society who struggle with affordability the most.
“Our development at Riverside is a great example, delivering 76 new properties for social rent and a further 113 for shared ownership.”