Can First Time Buyers Afford to Buy in Leeds?

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Can First Time Buyers Afford to Buy in Leeds?
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Are you ready to take your first step onto Leeds’s property ladder but need help picking a suitable neighbourhood?

In this post, we’ll consider multiple factors to determine whether first time buyers can afford to buy in Leeds.

From deposits to discount schemes, average living costs to the most affordable neighbourhoods, here’s what you can expect to spend.

Is it expensive to live in Leeds?

Leeds is much more affordable than major cities like London and Edinburgh. But it’s more expensive than some other northern cities, such as nearby Bradford.

But as the largest city in Yorkshire, Leeds arguably has more to offer residents, including:

  • A large job market
  • Extensive sports and leisure facilities
  • Great public transport links
  • A range of entertainment venues and cultural events

Leeds’s average house price of approximately £ £258,572 (as of May 2023) is still significantly lower than the national average. Currently around 20% less, in fact!

Living cost breakdowns

But how do prices compare day to day? Here are some average Leeds living costs for 2023:

·         Bus fares: Single ticket £2 / Day Saver £5.00

·         Train fares: Off-peak Day Saver £10.60

·         Petrol/ diesel: £1.43 – 1.88 per litre

·         Utilities (heating, gas, electric… for 2): £693 per month

·         1 litre of milk: 1.17p

·         Loaf of bread: 1.74p

·         Home broadband: £21

·         Simple dinner out for 2: £48

·         Cinema tickets for 2: £14

·         Gym membership: £30 per month

(Figures based on data produced by: wymetro.com, expatarrivals.com and expatistan.com)

What to look for as a first-time buyer in Leeds

When choosing a location that fits your needs, you must factor multiple elements into your decision. First up is affordability– the number one issue affecting first-time buyers in Leeds.

Start by establishing a budget based on your deposit and mortgage in principle – this will determine how much you can borrow. You can explore the properties available within your price range in certain areas. And remember, the cost of housing in Leeds does vary greatly, with the city’s northernmost suburbs being the priciest.   

At this point, you should list needs and wants, such as number of bedrooms and property type. Something to be aware of is your absolute must-haves and what you’re willing to compromise on.

Especially if you’re a first-time buyer working with a small budget, you may have to live further out to find a home with a garden. Or opt for a more modest home to access a better area. It just depends on what matters most to you – prioritise that!

Either way, look for locations within reasonable commuting distance of your work – or your children’s school if applicable. Also, think about local amenities that you’d like nearby. For instance, if you don’t drive, you may benefit from a suburb with a train station for convenience.

Additionally, check the Government support available for first-time buyers, such as the First Homes Scheme (see below). This will help you get the most out of your budget—in this case, through discounts on new builds.

What areas are best for first-time buyers?

Of course, there are ways to keep costs down when it comes to first time buyer expenses. The most obvious is to purchase a home in a less pricey part of the city. And while you may not want to live on one of Leeds’s cheapest streets, there are plenty of other options.

You’ll want to avoid the northern part of Leeds, as many of the wealthiest neighbourhoods are located here. Instead, Bramley, Kirkstall, Pudsey, Morley and Farnley are more budget friendly and all within easy reach of the city centre. Plus, these areas are typically safer than the cheapest districts which tend to have higher crime rates. You can find out more about the current cost of housing in Leeds on our blog.

5 best areas to live in Leeds for first-time buyers

1. Leeds city centre

Homes in the heart of Leeds are highly convenient for those who work in the city centre. If you must commute elsewhere, you’ll also have easy access to the train station and bus networks. The city’s main attractions, shops, bars, and nightlife will be right on your doorstep—ideal for younger home buyers.

Properties in this area include modern apartments and traditional terraces, with both types averaging around £190,000. That’s more than £60k less than the city’s average, but you will likely have to forego a spare bedroom and a garden. However, you can find more scenic waterfront apartments on Leeds Dock and along the banks of the River Aire.

2. Meanwood

Are you looking for a family-friendly area close to green spaces but need help to stretch to Chapel Allerton or Roundhay prices?

Then, nearby Meanwood may be the ideal solution.

Named one of the UK’s top 15 most incredible places to live by the Telegraph, this up-and-coming Leeds suburb has lots to offer its residents. From woodland parks and public sports courts to artisan shops, craft ale bars and cafes, plus supermarkets and good schools, Meanwood has it all. And you’ll be close to Headingley’s pubs, restaurants, rugby stadium and Leeds Beckett University.

Better yet, buses to the city centre run every 30 minutes. Sound good? The average terraced home costs £259,988, versus £310,776 in neighbouring Chapel Allerton. Or you could make your budget go even further by opting for a flat instead – currently £176,883 on average.

Remember that flats usually take longer to resell than larger homes. So, if you need to sell your flat fast, a cash buyer like We Buy Any Home could be your best bet.  

3. Horsforth

Alternatively, quieter Horsforth provides a more village-like sense of community if you want to live further out. At its core is a bustling high street with various shops, places to eat, not to mention multiple top-ranking schools. And if you and your family like getting outdoors, Horsforth Hall Park boasts a Japanese garden, skate park and cricket pitch.

The suburb also has a train station for commuters, enabling you to reach the city centre in just 20 minutes. Leeds Bradford Airport is also nearby, offering easy access to international destinations—whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure! While house prices are relatively high in this sought-after area, attractive terraces for around £270k can be found.

4. Pudsey

The market town of Pudsey is situated 6 miles west of Leeds, en route to Bradford. This large suburb has been praised for its affordability and family-friendly feel, and locals have access to numerous amenities. These range from high street shops to retail parks, leisure centres to Green Flag parks, and even a traditional market. Black Carr Woods and Fulneck Golf Club are nearby, and Pudsey Civic Hall hosts various fairs and events.

Practically speaking, Leeds city centre is a 20-minute drive or train ride away. Likewise, the M62 and M1 motorways are both within easy reach.

Yet, the town offers a slower pace of life than more central neighbourhoods. And terraced houses can be snapped up for £196,445 on average. Meanwhile, larger semi-detached homes with gardens are available for under £240k.

5. Kirkstall

Lastly, Kirkstall is on our list of the best places for first-time buyers to live in Leeds. Best known for its 12th-century abbey with picturesque grounds, Kirkstall is an excellent option for young professionals.

Commuting into the city centre via train takes just 10 minutes, and the suburb has many amenities too. These include two shopping parks featuring big-name brand stores, a gym, a leisure centre, multiple pubs, and green spaces. In addition, there is a cinema, bowling complex, and climbing centre, which are a short drive southeast of the suburb.

In short, you’ll never be stuck for something to do as a resident of Kirkstall or far away from the heart of the action in central Leeds. Better still, house prices are on par with Pudsey and perfect for first-time buyers. 

The most common property type here is terraced homes, but many are more significant than average with loft or basement conversions. Better still, they cost just £197K on average, or you could upgrade to a semi-detached house for £243,869 instead.

(House price data from Rightmove – correct as of May 2024)

How much money does a first-time buyer need?

With all of that in mind, you’re probably keen to know how much money you’ll need as a first-time buyer. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as there are numerous factors to consider. But we can provide some average stats to give you an idea.

According to Zoopla, the average property first-time buyers can afford to buy in Leeds costs £190,000.

Based on that, you’d need a household income of £42,250 (single or combined) to be considered for a mortgage. This is because you can usually borrow 4-5 times your household’s annual salary to ensure you can afford the repayments.

In reality, this means that you’d need to set aside about 40% of your monthly income for your mortgage costs. That figure is based on a 20% deposit and a mortgage rate of 5.5%, so it is variable.

And while it may seem high to some, Leeds actually ranks amongst the 10 most affordable places for first time buyers. For comparison, in London, you’d need to earn 45% more than the city’s average income just to cover your mortgage repayments.

What if I can’t afford that amount?

As the average Leeds salary now sits around £37K, you may well struggle to buy a home on your own. Solutions to this problem include paying a larger deposit, opting for partial ownership, or choosing a flat or terraced home.

The average flat in Leeds currently costs £154,014 and terraced houses around £182,744. Meanwhile, larger, more popular semi-detached homes are selling for £244,00.

Despite this, apartments take considerably longer to sell, so owners looking to sell a flat fast in Leeds or the Leeds area may accept a lower offer.

Alternatively, if you need a larger property, you may be eligible for the Government’s new First Homes discount scheme.

What is the First Homes scheme?

Introduced in 2021, the Government’s First Home schemes was developed to make homes more affordable for first time buyers.

Essentially, it enables local people to buy new build properties for 30% less than their market value. As a result, a brand-new home priced at £200,000, would only cost you £140,000.

To be eligible, you’ll need to be able to get a mortgage for at least half the purchase price. The house must cost no more than £250,000 after discount and your household income must not exceed £80,000 annually.

If you fit those requirements, you may well be in luck!

How much do I need for a house deposit?

First time buyer deposits vary greatly depending on your disposable income, gifted money and more.

If you rented first, you may have struggled to save a large amount alongside your monthly expenses. Whereas if you lived at home or in discounted work accommodation, you may have built up a decent savings pot.

Even so, Barclays found that 56% of first time buyers are reliant on family support. So don’t be ashamed to ask for help if you can! On top of that, the average first time buyer age has also risen to between 33-37 given the salary required.

But how much do you need to save?

According to Leeds Moneyman, first-time buyers in Leeds are putting down an average of £27K. Meanwhile, UK Finance found that the average UK deposit is around 22% of the purchase price.

However, you can often choose between a 5, 10 or 20% deposit to suit your needs, depending on the provider.

Just remember that the more deposit you can pay upfront, the lower the interest rate and monthly repayments. The latter of which will be considered by your lender, alongside your income, when assessing your eligibility for a mortgage.

Wondering how best to save up for a deposit? Look at Government-subsided Lifetime ISAs to receive an extra 25% contribution on your own funds.

So to answer the question: can first time buyers afford to buy in Leeds? It’s a resounding yes. You may need to save up for a little longer than anticipated before making your move. Or go for a slightly less affluent area and choose a smaller property to start with.

But owning a home in Leeds is certainly within reach for working couples and moderately above-average single earners. And if needed, there are low-deposit options and the First Homes scheme to try too.

Already own a property in Leeds and need help selling it?

Want to part ways with inherited property or sell a flat fast in Leeds? Whatever the scenario, if you’re not gaining much buyer interest, then We Buy Any Home can help.

All you need to do is provide your postcode and we’ll generate a free cash offer. If you decide to proceed, you could receive the funds within just 1 week. You could even use some of the money to help a friend or relative buying their first home!

Free cash offer within minutes, any condition, any location.

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