UK house prices are so high, even soap stars can't afford to buy

Research shows that the characters of some of our favourite TV soap shows can't afford to buy their (fictional) houses. But this fun stat highlights real challenges faced by would-be buyers in the real world

Small red houses balanced on top of pound coins

Ready for some (fairly) silly but also quite sobering property news? Recent research for One77 Mortgages focuses on the plight (yes, you read that right) of UK soap characters who, it turns out, would be priced out of today's property market. It might be a bit of fun, but what it does do is highlight quite starkly the gap between wages and house price affordability for all the rest of us in the real world.

From Ken Barlow to Ian Beale and Eric Pollard to Tony Hutchinson, the nation's favourite soap characters are shown to have been priced out of their neighbourhoods due to the inflated property prices and the income they make through their respective (if fictional) jobs.

One77 considered the price increase of each character's property from the time they joined their respective soaps to the present day. They then looked at the occupation and average earnings for each character and compared them to the salary required to secure the average mortgage at 4.5 times the property’s current value, less a 10 per cent deposit.

Let's start with EastEnder's Ian Beale, who lives in east London's Albert Square. Ian moved in in 1985, when a property in the area would have cost £65,000, on average. A 1,042 per cent increase since then means that despite his inconsistent professional life, Ian’s sitting on £743,000 worth of bricks and mortar. 

However, with the average small business owner like Ian taking home around £29,000 a year, Ian would be pretty shy of the £148,609 minimum income required to secure a mortgage if he was to buy the same house today.

Charlie Fairhead of Casualty has been around since 1986 and in that time, the average semi-detached house price in Bristol has increased 982 per cent, from £43,845 to £474,225. A dedicated NHS worker, Charlie would be on a salary of £26,252 today, which means he would be priced out of the market by over £68,000, with his annual income having to hit £94,845 for him to be accepted for a mortgage.

Since joining Emmerdale in 1986, Eric Pollard will have seen the price of his detached house in Arncliffe increase by over 2,000 per cent. If he wanted to buy it today, the average income of a B&B owner would leave Eric nearly £63,000 short of the £91,937 income required to secure a mortgage.

And what about the longest-serving character, Christine Barford of The Archers? She would have been on about £54,000 as a stable owner before she retired and would have bought her detached home in Curnall Green in 1953 for just over £2,000, which would have increased by 21,355 per cent today. If she were looking to move, she would still be short of £44,000 of the £98,992 she would need to earn to secure a mortgage.

Alastair McKee, Managing Director of One77 Mortgages, comments, 'Unfortunately for our best-loved soap stars, the cost of getting on the ladder today would see many of them resigned to the rental sector. Of course, this research is just a bit of fun and in many cases mortgage affordability would be bolstered by a partner or spouses’ income, but it does raise a more serious issue. Regardless of property type, profession and location, there is a huge disparity between the price of UK property and the wages on offer and it highlights the struggle facing many aspirational buyers today when trying to secure a mortgage.'