A new report on house prices shows how difficult it is for young couples in this area to buy their first house, even though both are earning.

The report, "Can work - can't buy" is from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and lists the figures which make it too expensive for many first time buyers to get started.

The report states that a 1-2 bedroom starter house cost on average in 2002 £150,785 in Rushmoor; £171,755 in Bracknell Forest; £185,509 in Hart; and a whopping £192,948 in Surrey Heath.

Working household incomes averaged out at: £38,274 for Rushmoor; £40,138 for Bracknell Forest; and £43,210 for Surrey Heath; £52,047 for Hart. But the salaries needed for people to buy their first home are listed as: Rushmoor £40,613; Bracknell Forest £45,681; Hart £50,214; Surrey Heath £51,814.

This means that the house price to income ratio was: 3.94 for Rushmoor; 3.56 for Hart; 4.28 in Bracknell Forest; and 4.47 for Surrey Heath.

But the picture may not be quite as gloomy as the report indicates, and the best prices are in Aldershot. At Bourke's in High Street, Aldershot, Paul Bourke had a one bed flat in the High Street available for £98,500. The cheapest house on his books was a three bed mid terrace in Shalden Road, Aldershot, for £175,000. He said the market had slowed since the start of the Iraq war, and that some buyers were holding back, hoping that prices might come down. He added that sellers who did not achieve their prices were renting the places out rather than dropping the price.

The agent opposite the Star office, Seekers in Victoria Road, Aldershot, had eight properties below the £150,000 average figure in the report. There was a one bed top floor flat in Queens Road for £89,950; a one bed studio flat in Ascot Court, Aldershot, for £109,500 and a two bed apartment in Gordon Road, Aldershot, for £129,950. In Farnborough there was a three bed house in Caswell Close for £140,000 and a two bed house in Bideford Close, Cove, for £141,950.

In Camberley Mann and Co's cheapest properties were a studio flat in Southern Road for £109,950, and a one bed flat for £120,000 in Brackendale Close. To get a two bed house, the cheapest price was £149,950 for a property in Uplands Road. Mann's is offering mortgages at 2.99% to help buyers.

In Fleet Romans said their cheapest property was a one bed flat in Church Crookham for £120,000, and a 2 bed starter home would cost about £170,000 - but they had none available.

Carsons of Fleet had just received an offer on a £149,950 three bed former council flat. The cheapest thing available for first timers was a three bed semi for £214,950. The most affordable property was off limits for young couples - a two bed retirement flat for £129,950.

Meanwhile there is worse news for home hunters, with a ten percent growth forecast in house prices this year by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. They say that rising inequality of income, low levels of house building and falling interest rates are all contributing to the equation.

On average first timers can borrow 2.5 times their income and the average first time buyer purchase price for 2002 was £102,988, with the buyer putting down an average deposit of £23,095 - 23% of the total price.

There is particular concern in the reports over teachers, police, nurses and firefighters being unable to get homes at their current rates of pay, but some of these people are paid more than many other workers, who also need homes and want to start families.