RURAL housing is less affordable than the urban alternative, with average property prices more than six times that of the typical wage, a report today (sat) indicated.
Rapid house price inflation has pushed the average property value in the countryside up to £180,283, more than £25,000 higher than that of a town or city house.
With earnings generally lower outside of city areas, young first-time buyers are increasingly being frozen out of the rural property market as holiday home purchases rise, it is claimed.
The Welsh Rural Housing Review, published today by Halifax, shows:
The average property price in rural areas is 6.4 times average annual earnings compared with a ratio of 5.5 in urban areas;
The average price of a house in rural areas is £180,283, 17% higher than in urban areas where it is £154,250;
House prices in the countryside have increased on average by 103% in the last five years;
First-time buyers account for only 25% of sales in rural areas compared to 35% in urban areas;
Only 14% of housing in rural areas is classed as social housing; and
The proportion of second homes in Wales is one and a half times that for rural areas across Britain as a whole.
Nick Davies, of the National Association of Estate Agents, said, "It is no surprise to see more people buying holiday homes, it is people who live in areas where wages are good and want to buy somewhere away from urban areas."
The Pontyclun-based estate agent said the figures were another argument for raising the stamp duty threshold to help first-time buyers.
He added, "As we see in the rest of the property market there is no help for first-time buyers who want to get on the property ladder.
"The Government needs to address the issue of stamp duty, currently at £120,000, because it is still far to low. The threshold should be raised to £150,000 or even £175,000. This is why the rental market is as strong as ever, but tenants do not get any long-term gains from renting."
The data was compiled using property figures for Wales’ eight most rural local authorities areas – Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire, Isle of Anglesey, Ceredigion, Powys, Denbighshire, Monmouthshire and Carmarthenshire.
Housing in Powys is the least affordable off all the local authorities, with average house prices 7.5 times the local annual earnings. This means people wanting to buy property in the area would find it virtually impossible to get a mortgage, in a property market that has traditionally relied on calculation of 2.5 or 3.5 times earnings for mortgages.
Alun Ffred Jones, Plaid Cymru AM for Caernarfon and a former leader of Gwynedd Council, said, "We simply cannot allow this situation to continue. Average house prices in rural areas are now 6.4 times average earnings. Young people simply cannot afford to buy houses in their communities and are therefore leaving to go to big cities.
"Plaid believes that all people in all parts of Wales should have a right to suitable and affordable housing.
"The One Wales government are planning to provide grants for first-time buyers and increased funding for social housing. It will also give local authorities more powers to increase affordable housing on development sites and to try and control the conversion of full-time dwellings into second homes.
"But, if we are really going to improve the situation, we also need support from Labour in Westminster who have done very little over the past 10 years to solve rural housing problems."
The figures also lay bare the number of second homes in Wales’ rural areas.
The proportion of second homes in rural Wales is 3%, while is one and a half times that for rural areas across Britain as a whole it is 1.8%.
Gwynedd is the rural area with the highest proportion of second homes in Wales (8%). Argyll & Bute in Scotland and South Hams in Devon are the only rural areas in Britain with a higher proportion of second homes.
Francesca Tanguy, head of country homes at Cooke & Arkwright chartered surveyors, said, "Rural homes are totally out of the reach of the first-time buyer market.
"There was a huge growth in the rural market in 2004 and since then the growth has slowed a little.
"The really special houses in the most desirable parts of Wales can command big prices.
"It is usually people with a Welsh connection through family or friends who want to buy a second home in Wales and this drives the house prices up for the locals."