YORK is one of the least affordable cities in the country to buy a home, according to a new survey.

The average property price of £187,411 is 5.95 times gross average annual earnings in the area, says the Lloyds TSB Affordable Cities review.

The city and Inverness jointly share the title of least affordable city in the UK outside of southern England.

The situation in York contrasts sharply with other northern cities such as Salford near Manchester, which is now the most affordable UK city, with its average property price of £102,391 just 3.81 times gross average annual earnings. The report says this figure partly reflects a 32 per cent fall in house prices in this part of Greater Manchester since 2008. The next most affordable cities include Bradford at 3.98.

The worst for affordability in the country is Truro in Cornwall, where the average property price of £250,489 is 9.71 times gross average earnings in the area.

The report says that generally, home affordability for people living in many parts of the the UK is at its most favourable in nearly a decade.

The typical price for a city home is £173,202, equating to 5.5 times gross annual average earnings, the lowest ratio since 2003 and way below the peak of 7.2 recorded in 2008.

House price drops are the main factor behind the general improvement in affordability, with the typical city house price having fallen by 18 per cent or just over £37,400, from £210,605 in 2008 to £173,202 in 2012.

Suren Thiru, housing economist at Lloyds TSB, said: "The improvement in housing affordability within many of our major urban conurbations has been significant during the past few years and reflects the decline in house prices over the period. There is, however, a distinct North-South divide to the locations of the most affordable UK cities."

He said improved general affordability could be offset by households facing trouble raising deposits and general uncertainty over the outlook of the UK economy.