Mortgages more affordable than ever
Mortgage payments in 2011 were at their most affordable levels for a decade, according to data from Barclays.
Research from the bank, looking at more than one million customer accounts, reveals that the average homeowner paid out 15.4% of their take-home pay on their mortgage in 2011. That compares to a 20.5% share of income in 2008, when mortgage payments took up the largest proportion of salary.
Andy Gray, head of mortgages at Barclays, says these findings are unsurprising given last year's conditions: "With the cheapest ever mortgage deals offered to homeowners last year and the fiercely competitive mortgage market it stands to reason that the average monthly mortgage payment was at its most affordable level in a decade."
The percentage of take-home pay spent on mortgage payments differs according to region with London mortgageholders spending the largest proportion each month (18.9%), compared to those in the East Midlands and Wales, who only pay 14.1%.
The figures show that while the housing market is undergoing a difficult time, those already on the property ladder are faring better than those yet to climb onto it. Average rents went up by 3.5% last year, according to LSL property services.
Barclays' analysis coincides with its own consumer opinion polls, which show 64% of homeowners find their mortgage affordable, compared to 52% the same time last year. Its research also reveals that 83% of homeowners are financially prepared for future interest rate rises.
"We know that other financial factors are likely to bite again this year, but homeowners can't afford to forget about their mortgage just because base rate is predicted to remain at record lows throughout 2012," warns Gray.
"The cost of energy bills, running a car and food may be beyond their control, but homeowners have an opportunity to look at their mortgage payments and shop around for better deals to ensure their mortgage remains affordable during 2012 and beyond, which will also help to offset any other rising household costs," he adds.
Also referred to as the bank rate or the minimum lending rate, the Bank of England base rate is the lowest rate the Bank uses to discount bills of exchange. This affects consumers as it is used by mainstream lenders and banks as the basis for calculating interest rates on mortgages, loans and savings.