HOUSE prices across the region have increased more than four times faster than the average wage, it was revealed last night.
In Warrington, price tags on the housing market have shot up seven times more quickly than salaries, making it one of the most difficult areas in Merseyside and Cheshire for buyers to get on the property ladder.
At 184%, house prices in Liverpool have soared at the quickest rate in the North West since 1997, but the city also boasts the highest average increase in wage, from £16,008 to £24,059.
Experts predict the average house price in the region will exceed £200,000 by 2012, meaning buyers will see an increase of up to 40% in the next four years.
Malcolm Struthers, a spokesman for the National Housing Federation, said the region urgently needed an injection of affordable housing.
He said: “In addition to rapidly rising house prices, waiting lists for affordable homes have increased at a staggering rate. A total 217,397 people are now on a waiting list for an affordable home in the North West.
“The Federation believes around 3,500 - 4,250 new affordable homes need to be delivered each year in the North West. To stop the housing timebomb from exploding, we need to double the number of affordable homes built in the North West each year to about 4,000. The Government has increased funding for affordable housing but is simply not keeping pace with people's needs in Merseyside.”
Just 10 years ago, the average North West house could be bought for £49,000, the equivalent to three years of the then average wage of £16,279.
But since then house prices have risen by 157%, taking the average house in the North West to £126,000, while the average wage has gone up by only 37.7% to £22,420.
According to new statistics released by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), it now takes five years seven months of an average employee’s wage to buy an average house.
Executive member for regeneration Cllr Bob Barr, a retired geography lecturer, said the figures did not tell the whole story and said the rocketing house prices in Warrington were a result of an untold success story.
He said: “There are two distinct markets in Warrington on either side of the Ship Canal. To the south of the canal, there are a lot of new executive developments, which have pushed up the house prices.
“In the town centre, older properties, which were once below the average price, have also risen, due to the success and economic growth of the town.”
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “These stark figures bring alive the housing crisis. They show just how quickly buying your own home has gone out of the reach of many working people.
“It is striking house prices seem to have gone up in line with the pay of top directors and the super-rich, rather than middle and low earners.”