YOUNG people in York and North Yorkshire are being priced out of the housing market, it was claimed today.

Research carried out by the University of York for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows young people cannot afford to get on the property ladder in 33 areas of England.

The study reveals starter homes are now five times higher than local salaries for people in their 20s and 30s in 33 local authorities, mainly in London and the South East.

In York, starter homes cost 2.23 times more than the average wage of £32,985. In Ryedale the average price for starter homes is £84,790, almost three times the average income in the area of £28,670.

Selby buyers can expect to pay 2.41 times their salary for a starter home, while in Harrogate a basic four to five room dwelling will cost around £87,707, 2.73 times the average wage.

Peter Moody, of estate agents Hudson Moody, said first-time buyers, particularly single people, were finding it difficult to buy starter homes in York and North Yorkshire.

He said: "Three years ago we were selling plenty of first-time buyer houses to single buyers, but now we sell practically nothing to single people.

"If you are single and want to buy a property you either have to have a very high income or a lot of savings."

He said young people had been priced out of the market in York because a lot of starter homes had been bought by investment buyers who were buying property to rent out.

"First-time buyers have been pipped to the post by investment buyers who pay top money for properties. That has pushed the prices out of reach for an awful lot of first-time buyers," he said.

The national study showed that property was least affordable in Westminster, where at £448,382 a starter home cost an average of 7.92 times the average household income for the area of £56,625.

The report's author, Professor Steve Wilcox, of the University of York, said: "Even in dual income households key workers such as nurses and teachers still cannot afford to buy in many parts of London and the South East."

But he said the research showed the crisis in affordability was not confined to London and the South East.

Updated: 11:42 Monday, May 19, 2003