Devon houses you could have bought and rented for peanuts 100 years ago

A six bedroom house for just £ 2,250 looks like the stuff of dreams. Wind the clock back to 1921 and that’s exactly what your money could buy you in Devon – oh if only we had a time machine.

The average house price in Devon amounts to £ 322,991 in August 2021 and with the average UK salary at £ 29,600 a year, house prices have soared above wages.

But was it more affordable to buy a house 100 years ago?

Read more: Coastal Devon homes are selling 20 days faster than before pandemic

Head to the British Newspaper Archives and look at any of the Devon newspapers published in 1921 and, in addition to auction pages and advertisements for everything from sight tests to sporting weapons, there are many fascinating stories depicting life in the years crazy.



The indoor swimming pool of the Palace Hotel Torquay

An article published in the Torquay Times and the South Devon Advertiser on Friday, September 2, 1921, announced that construction of the Palace Hotel in Torquay – which was demolished almost 100 years later in 2020 – was completed and now open to guests.

The article stated that with “all modern and scientific labor-saving devices,” the “beautifully decorated and furnished” hotel was “in the best and healthiest part of Torquay, and in the heart of the city. shelter for the usual day trippers and day trippers by the sea ”.



An article in the Torquay Times and the South Devon Advertiser in 1921 announced the opening of the Palace Hotel in Torquay
A 1921 Torquay Times and South Devon Advertiser article announced the opening of the Palace Hotel in Torquay

On September 29, 1921, The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette reported a court case on its front page which featured a sidecar vacation in Devon and two women who claimed to have been duped by a married man. The man was charged with “fraudulent conversion of a bailiff, theft and false marriage pretenses” and was remanded in custody.

Take a look at job postings published in newspapers such as Western Morning News, Exeter and the Plymouth Gazette and Torquay Times and you’ll get a glimpse of the wages paid to workers in the Southwest 100 years ago.



Vacancies in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette on Saturday August 13, 1921
Vacancies in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette on Saturday August 13, 1921

In vacancies in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette on Saturday August 13, 1921, potential employers were looking for an active housekeeper to help two women in Sidmouth. The salary offered for the role was £ 45 for the year. According to the Bank of England inflation calculator The £ 45 in 1921 was worth £ 2,252.73 in 2020.

Another ad called for a cook at Western-Super-Mare and offered £ 45-50 a year, while the matron at Hawley Tuberculosis Hospital in Barnstaple sought to employ a general cook for £ 45 a year, a maid for £ 24. a year old and a housekeeper for £ 20 a year – £ 1,001.21 of the 2020 money.



Featured in the Western Morning News on August 23, 1921, No.34 Garden Street in Plymouth was auctioned off
Featured in the Western Morning News on August 23, 1921, No.34 Garden Street in Plymouth was auctioned off

Equally interesting are the real estate advertisements for August 1921. On Tuesday August 23, 1921, the Western Morning News reported that a property in Plymouth had been auctioned.

He said: “Offering four lots at Law Chambers, Princess-Square, Plymouth, yesterday Messrs. D White & Co managed to sell a property, No.34 Garden Street for £ 230.”

To verify Zoopla in August 2021, and the property’s website says that over the past 12 months Garden Street apartments have sold for an average of £ 84,721 and townhouses for an average of £ 164,275.



Today: Terraced houses in Garden Street, Plymouth, have sold for an average of £ 164,275 in the past 12 months
Today: Terraced houses in Garden Street, Plymouth, have sold for an average of £ 164,275 in the past 12 months

A family looking for a house to rent ran an ad in the North Devon Journal on September 29, 1921. It said: “A small family needs a Barnstaple house including rent and rates not to exceed £ 45 per year “.

In Newton Abbot, you can buy a seven bedroom house for £ 2,250. Featured in the Western Morning News of August 23, 1921, the Wolborough Hill House was described as a well-appointed freehold residence near the college, with three reception rooms, seven bedrooms, one bath, gas, l electric lighting and good gardens.

Among the properties listed by Percy Hexter, auctioneer and appraiser in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette on Friday, September 9, 1921, was a house for sale in Cowley Road and another in Pennsylvania, in Exeter.

The Cowley Road house has been described as a pretty six room house, with a lovely garden, as well as a large garden plot and lovely open views. It was on the market for £ 450.



Percy Hexter was advertising properties for sale in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette on Friday September 9, 1921
Percy Hexter was advertising properties for sale in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette on Friday September 9, 1921

At more than double the price, the ‘beautiful’ Pennsylvania property was for sale for £ 950 and featured two large receptions, five bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, utility room and garden.

Fast forward to the 21st century and, according to Rightmove, properties in Pennsylvania had an overall average price of £ 374,898 over the past year.

The majority of sales in Pennsylvania over the past year were single-family homes, selling for an average price of £ 459,856. Semi-detached properties sold for an average of £ 255,354, with semi-detached properties for £ 311,107.

Currently on the market with Stags in Exeter, you can buy a four bedroom house on Armstrong Avenue in Pennsylvania with parking, garage, back gardens and stunning views for deals over £ 400,000.

If you receive the UK average salary of £ 29,600 per year, you will need to borrow 13 and a half times your salary to be able to live here as a single person or 6.7 times the salary of a couple earning the UK average salary. .



This home in Armstrong Avenue in Pennsylvania, Exeter, is currently on the market with Stags
This home in Armstrong Avenue in Pennsylvania, Exeter, is currently on the market with Stags

According to Online Mortgage Advisor, most mortgage lenders use an income multiple of four to four and a half times your salary to determine how much you can afford to borrow for a home.

Go back to 1921, and if you were a cook paid £ 45 a year and wanted to buy the beautiful Pennsylvania house listed with Percy Hexter for £ 950, you would have had to borrow 21 times your paycheck.

Set your sights on the Cowley Road property for sale for £ 450 and you should have borrowed 10 times your salary to afford the six room house with a beautiful view. And if it was a cook who had bought No.34 Garden Street at auction for £ 230, he should have borrowed just over five times his annual salary.



Priced Out Devon - highlighting the ups and downs of the Devon property boom

It is goods – not the coronavirus – which is becoming Devon’s hottest topic, now the terrible pandemic is brewing towards its conclusion.

As city dwellers head to the glorious Southwest to vacation – and live – in droves, there are clearly clear winners and losers.

Are there too many second homes? Are landlords taking advantage of a stay boom and prioritizing AirBnb customers over permanent tenants? Is Devon in the grip of a housing crisis?

These are questions we will be asking in the content challenge as part of the campaign. Prices outside Devon.

But it will never be that gloomy and pessimistic.

We’ve rounded up homes under £ 150,000 in the county that are perfect for first-time buyers and we’ll have regular updates on new build developments with affordable homes – and there will be more positive content like that here to come.

We highlight the ups and downs of the Devon property boom. Find our content here and sign up for our real estate newsletter here.

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