Cost of homes 'devastating' for first-time buyer as house prices rise more in Wales than rest of UK

One first-time buyer has described his ambition to own a home as like "running a marathon" where miles keep getting added on, due to prices rising.

Elfed Wyn ap Elwyn described the soaring price tags of properties as "absolutely devastating".

Experts claim the average house cost in Wales has risen anywhere between ten to sixteen per cent, with Halifax estimating Wales has outperformed every other region of the UK. While this may be beneficial for those who already own a home, people looking to get their feet on the property ladder now face a steeper challenge.

Mr Wyn ap Elwyn said the problem is not just the increase in prices but also that properties are going off the market in "a matter of days" rather than weeks.

Nationwide said UK house prices have seen the biggest increase ever recorded in a single year, with Wales the strongest performer.

Mr Wyn ap Elwyn and his fiancee are hoping to buy a home together but now wonder if they will ever be able to afford it.

"The prices have gone up, a house that was £80 to £90,000 even two or three years ago is now £100 to £120,00," Mr Wyn ap Elwyn explained, describing this as "absolutely devastating".

The search for an affordable home has been made even more challenging, according to the renter, as properties are quickly snapped up.

He said: "Not only the price but the time it takes to go off the market too, it's a matter of days not weeks.

"There was a house that we were planning on how we were going to afford the end of the week it was sold. That's happened a few times now."

Even working multiple jobs, Mr Wyn ap Elwyn said saving to buy feels like "running a marathon and they're just adding miles on".

The land registry puts the price rise for Wales, over the past year, at 15 per cent while Rightmove believes it is 11 per cent.

According to experts, there has never been a more prosperous time to own a house, particularly in Wales.

Major lender Halifax said across Wales, prices have risen 14 per cent, outperforming every other region of the UK. It puts Swansea as the area within Wales that has seen house prices go up the most, at 15.5 per cent. The average price of a property there is £211,590.

Nationwide Building Society said UK house prices have seen the biggest increase ever recorded in a single year in cash terms. It said Wales ended the year as the strongest performer, with house prices there up by 15.8% year on year.

Nationwide's chief economist, Robert Gardner, said this is the first time in the history of their regional index that Wales has ended the year as the top performer.

Looking at what has been behind the price increases, Mr Gardner said demand for homes has remained strong despite the ending of the stamp duty holiday this year.

He said: "Mortgage approvals for house purchase have continued to run above pre-pandemic levels, despite the surge in activity seen earlier in the year. Indeed, in the first 11 months of 2021 the total number of property transactions was almost 30% higher than over the same period of 2019.

"At the same time, the stock of homes on the market has remained extremely low throughout the year, which has contributed to the robust pace of price growth."

Other contributing factors are believed to be people saving money during lockdown and considering relocating from cities to more rural areas, like those in Gwynedd where Mr Wyn ap Elwyn is looking to buy.

Wales also has 800 miles of coastline and properties close to the sea are more attractive and claim more of a premium than ever.

Mr Gardner said the outlook for the housing market "remains extremely uncertain".

He continued: "The strength of the market surprised in 2021 and could do so again in the year ahead.

"The market still has significant momentum and shifts in housing preferences as a result of the pandemic could continue to support activity and price growth."

Karen Noye, a mortgage expert at wealth management firm Quilter, said we could see a slowdown in property prices in 2022.

She said: "Increased mortgage costs coupled with the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant could well make people think twice about moving home and we could see a break in house price growth as a result. However, supply versus demand issues persist, so we are likely to see a gradual slowing of growth as we head into 2022 as opposed to a sharp drop."