June 28, 2012 12:30 ET

Halifax Reports the Cost of Owning and Running a Home at Highest

- Rising cost of utility bills account for 89% of total rise

- Increase comes despite 23% drop in average mortgage payments

ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - June 28, 2012) - The expense of owning and running a house has risen to its highest level in four years, according to new research by Halifax. The typical annual cost associated with owning and running a home in the UK stood at £9,393 in January 2012, the highest average annual total since January 2008 (£9,406). Over the past year, the cost of housing has risen by 2.7% (£243) from £9,149 in January 2011. The increase, however, was less than the 3.6% rise in consumer prices over the same period.

The increase in housing costs over the past year largely reflects rising utility bills

In monetary terms, the largest upward pressure on housing costs came from a £218 rise in gas and electricity bills, accounting for 89% of the total rise. The increase in gas and electricity was more than seven times the rise in the cost of home and garden tools (+£31), the second biggest contributor to the increase in housing costs. Nine of the 11 housing expense categories tracked have risen in cost over the past year. In contrast, the most significant downward pressure on costs for homeowners came from mortgage payments, which fell by an average of £66.

Home running costs have risen across all UK regions in the last 12 months

Housing costs have risen across all UK regions since January 2011. Nonetheless, just two of the 12 regions - Northern Ireland and Wales - saw costs rise at a faster rate than consumer price inflation (3.6%). Northern Ireland recorded the largest rise (4.6%), followed by Wales (3.9%).Those living in the East Midlands and London saw the smallest rises (both 1.9%).

Unsurprisingly, total annual costs of owning and running a home are highest in London, at £11,843. This is 52% (£4,051) higher than in Northern Ireland (£7,793), which has the lowest costs.

Mortgage payments have fallen by nearly a quarter since 2008…

The typical annual mortgage payment has fallen by 23% (-£1,036) over the past four years from £4,521 in January 2008 to £3,485 in January 2012. This decline reflects both the significant fall in mortgage rates and the reduction in house prices over the period.

…offsetting the rising cost of all other housing expense categories

The cost of each of the other 10 housing expenditure categories tracked has risen since 2008. Utility bills recorded the biggest increase (50%), followed by home and garden tools (28%) and home maintenance (20%). Consumer prices, in general, increased by 15% over the period.

Housing costs up 55% over the past decade

Between January 2002 and January 2012, the average annual cost associated with owning and running a home rose by 55% (£3,333) in the UK from £6,061 to £9,393. This is double the increase in consumer prices over the period (28%).

The rise in the cost of housing since 2002 has been driven by a £1,227 increase in mortgage payments (notwithstanding the significant decline since 2008), a £979 rise in gas and electricity bills and a £502 increase in council tax payments. These increases combined accounted for 81% of the total rise in housing costs.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, commented:

"The typical costs of owning and running a home has increased over the past year, returning the overall level to that of four years ago. This has happened despite the substantial fall in mortgage payments over recent years, as all the other costs associated with home ownership have risen. The prospect of declining consumer price inflation through much of 2012 may help the costs associated with running a home to ease as well, providing some welcome relief to homeowners."


Share of total housing costs by category

Mortgage payments have dropped significantly as a share of total housing costs over the last four years from 48% in January 2008 to 37% in January 2012. In contrast, electricity and gas bills' share has risen from 12% to 18%.

Mortgage payments remain the largest single component of housing expenses (37%). Electricity and gas charges account for the second highest share (18%), followed by council tax payments (15%).

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