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History of house prices in Britain

Posted on 16 September 2020

Over the years, house prices in the UK have rocketed. So much so, it’s hard to remember a time when buying a new home cost less than £3,000. These days, you’d pay that much for a couple of months’ rent in some parts of the country.

It may not have been easy for you to get on the property ladder when you were younger. But if you managed it, all your hard work may really pay off now.

We look back over the last 70 years to see how house prices have risen, and whether our wages could keep up.

Timeline of house prices

1950

If you could afford to buy a home after the war, it was likely to be a brand new one. The average cost of a new house was £1,891 (around £65,224 in today’s money) and the average salary was £10 a week (roughly £339), so buying a property was no mean feat, even then.

On the upside, these new homes came with indoor toilets, revolutionising the way we did our business!

The electric fire, washing machine and humble fish finger, were life-changing inventions of the era.

1960

House prices continued to rise along with the average income, which now stood at £960 (around £21,925) per year. The average cost of a home was now £2,530 (approximately £55,784).

By the end of the decade some of us were watching TV – in colour.

With these higher prices came mod cons. Most homes in the UK now had electricity, a fridge, cooker and TV.

woman-in-sixties-shift-dress-changing-channel-on-a-tv-set

1970

This was a rocky decade. Widespread unrest and hardship on the one hand and a boom in home ownership on the other.

The mortgage market took off and house prices flew. At the start of the 70s the average house price was £4,057.

In 1974, the first microwave was sold and 4 years later the VHS video recorder meant we never had to miss our favourite TV programme again.

Our average earnings climbed too. But this was when the gap between wages and house prices began growing wider and wider.

1975

The cost of home ownership continued to rise at lightning speed. By the end of the decade, the average house price had quadrupled to £19,925.

Avocado became the must-have colour for bathroom suites. And bathrooms became the place to ride your exercise bike.

man on exercise bike.

1980

Everything changed again. Margaret Thatcher gave people the right to buy their council houses. And house prices shot up like never before, reaching an average price of £20,268.

The world waited to see who shot JR in the TV series Dallas. And ‘Ghetto Blaster’ made it into the English dictionary.

1985

House prices rose 16% in 1987 and a further 25% in 1988 – the highest rise ever recorded. You could expect to pay, on average, £29,143 for a home.

Children of the 80s will remember wishing for an Amstrad, Commodore or ZX Spectrum, home computer.

young-boy-in-school-inform-playing-a-home-computer

1990

Spiralling interest rates led to the housing crash at the start of this decade. Even though property prices dropped by 20%, the average cost of a home was still £58,153 – twice as much as just 5 years earlier.

And a pint of milk cost on average 30p, compared to 50p today.

1995

Slowly but surely, house prices started to creep up again. You could now expect to pay, on average, £59,939 for your new pad.

In 1997, house prices were on average, 3.6 times workers’ annual salaries.

2000

New millennium, new increase in house prices. And at almost £30,000 in 5 years, it was quite a big one. The average cost of a home reached £89,597.

Home gaming got serious – Nintendo sold its 100 millionth Gameboy console and PlayStation 2 was launched.

2005

In just 5 years, house prices leapt nearly £70,000. This meant the average property cost a staggering £156,236. While the average salary was around £23,900.

And popular TV show EastEnders, a staple across millions of UK homes, celebrated its 20th anniversary.

2010

Still on the up, but not such a huge jump, the average cost of a property reached £170,365.

Instagram was launched, and Apple introduced the iPad.

man on ipad.

2015

In 15 years, average property prices increased by over £100,000, meaning you’d need around £197,890 to buy a house. While the average salary had only crept up to £27,600.

Jeremy Clarkson was suspended from TV show Top Gear after a set to with a producer.

2019

The latest information shows that the average cost of a home is currently £231,215 – that’s £229,324 more than in 1950. Quite a rise, wouldn’t you agree?

A new breed of beetle with antennae like plaits is discovered. Scientists name it after teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.

House prices today

Home buying has never been that affordable. But it’s become less so in the last 40 years. In 1960s the average house price was just £2,530, compared to a staggering £231,215 today.

If you bought your home back then, and you’ve paid off your mortgage in full, you may be wondering, ‘how much has my house made me?’ Hopefully, the answer is quite a lot, and you’ll have enough equity for a nice little nest egg.

It could even be the perfect amount to help get your children on the property ladder or pay for a new kitchen or conservatory. Equity release, as it’s known, is a popular way to fund home improvements, and something you might want to think about when the time comes.

What else is more expensive now than back in the day?

But it’s not just house prices that have gone up over the years. Here are a few items that aren’t quite as cheap as they used to be.

In the 1950s a loaf of bread cost 4p, a pound of butter was 18p, a pint of milk was 3p.

In the 1960s a season ticket to see Manchester United play was £8.50 and the players were paid a maximum of £50 a week.

In the 1970s you could get 2 tickets to the cinema for less than 90p. And a brand-new Mini cost £600 (compared to £10,500 today).

In the 1980s a First-Class stamp cost 12p, while a portion of fish and chips was just 83p, and a cut and blow dry at Toni & Guy hair salon was £23.

Sounds like a bargain, compared to today’s prices!

Sources:

Timeline section

1990:

Cost of a pint of milk https://www.rubberbox.co.uk/blog/25-things-1990/

Housing crash https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/an-extreme-vision-that-has-no-precedent-5hsxvcl5c

1995:

House prices 3.6 times workers’ salaries in 1997 https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/mar/17/average-house-price-times-annual-salary-official-figures-ons

2005:

Average salary https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/average-wages-2005

2010:

Interesting snippet – iPad and Instagram https://hobbylark.com/party-games/2010-Fun-Facts-Trivia-and-Major-Events

2015:

Salary reference https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/

Interesting snippet Jeremy Clarkson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_in_the_United_Kingdom

2019:

Greta Beetle reference https://bestlifeonline.com/interesting-facts-2019/

What else is more expensive now than back in the day section

1950s examples https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/personal-finance/back-in-the-50s-537494

1960s examples https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1172486/1960-The-year-The-Beatles-formed-loaf-bread-cost-5p-house-2-530.html

1970s examples https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2004/mar/05/health.drugsandalcohol

1980s examples https://inflationdata.com/articles/2012/12/14/cost-living-fish-chips/

Toni & Guy https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-1609849/How-prices-have-changed-in-25-years.html