Country properties command prices 16% higher than urban areas, research reveals

Average property prices high in rural areas

Residential property prices in the countryside in the UK are on average £27,000 higher than in urban areas, according to the latest annual Halifax Rural Housing Review.

The rural premium has increased 35% over the last decade, up from £20,000 in 2001. Rural property prices rose by an average of £69,170, equivalent to £576 per month, from £127,146 in 2001 to £196,316 in 2011.

In comparison, urban areas saw an average increase of £62,223, or £519 per month, from £107,130 to £169,353. In percentage terms, however, prices in urban areas have risen by slightly more than in the countryside, 58% against 54%.

Since the housing downturn started in 2007, property prices in the countryside have fallen by 22% and in urban areas by 23%, the report also shows.

The strength in rural property prices over the past decade has resulted in housing becoming less affordable for buyers on average incomes. This is particularly true in the South West which has eight of the ten least affordable rural areas in the country.

West Dorset is the least affordable rural area in Britain, measured by the house price to earnings ratio, with an average house price that is eight times local gross annual average earnings. South Lakeland in the North West and Ceredigion in Wales are the only areas among the least affordable local authorities that are outside the South West.

The house price to earnings ratio for all rural areas is 5.6. This compares with an average of 4.8 for urban areas.

There are only five rural areas where the ratio of prices to earnings is below the historical long term average of four. Copeland in Cumbria at 3.3, East Ayrshire at 3.4, North Lincolnshire and Allerdale in Cumbria both at 3.7 and Northumberland at 3.9 are the most affordable rural areas in the country.

Uttlesford is the most expensive rural local authority district (LAD) in Great Britain with an average house price of £307,507, some 57% or £112,000, above the national rural average of £196,319. East Ayrshire at £103,981 is the least expensive rural area in Britain.

Fifteen rural areas have seen average property prices more than double over the last decade.

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