Savills Research has analysed asking prices in 65 commuter towns circling the M25, ranking them by relative accessibility to both first-time buyers and those seeking to work their way up the housing ladder.  For each location it considers the average price of a one-bedroom flat at the bottom of the housing ladder and the proportionate increase in the cost of a four-bedroom house at the top.   

The report reveals that Clacton on Sea, Margate and Basildon have the most accessible property ladders, while Hove, Reigate and Maidenhead are the least accessible.

* See map below

While there is a strong correlation between the price of entry to the market in the different locations and the ease of moving up the ladder, the link is not linear.  Much depends on a town’s housing stock, local employment, commuter time to London, amenities which all impact on values at each stage on the ladder.

‘Many aspiring home owners are faced with the difficulty of getting onto the property ladder, but our analysis shows that the challenges continue up the ladder and require high levels of accumulated equity at each stage,’ says Lucian Cook, director of Savills Research.   ‘By far the hardest jump is from a three to a four bedroom property, which requires a 60% increase in spend.’

Currently, the average price of a one-bed flat in this South East commuter belt is £121,265, while a four-bed house is £391,212, a 3.2 fold jump.  On average each move up the housing ladder requires a home mover to buy a property worth 50% more than their existing property.  

After costs of moving, a home owner will need to have retained at least 40% equity in their existing property in order to secure a 75% loan to value mortgage on their new home, the minimum required for a favourable rate.

‘Owners will all have seen their equity squeezed by house price falls which explains why buying activity is currently limited to cash buyers and those with significant levels of equity,’ says Mr Cook.  ‘Ironically, this means that the prime commuter and prime regional towns – which on the face of it are some of the least accessible locations but which have historically attracted cash and equity rich buyers – will be first to recover when the market turns.

‘Those buyers with limited amounts of equity or cash, but an overriding need to move for more space, are having to look beyond their first choice location in search of value.’

For example, an owner in top priced Hove, where the one bed flat averages £156,938 and a four bed house £611,177 (a 3.9 fold increase) might look to work their equity harder in Brighton, where the entry level is comparable but a four bed house averages just £470,616.

View Most expensive commuter towns in a larger map