Bucking the national trend, the cost of servicing a mortgage increased in the West Midlands in January.
Overall, the mortgage burden as a percentage of household take-home pay fell by 0.2 percentage points to 18.4 per cent in England and Wales.
The figure represented the lowest level of payments since July 2005, according to the Woolwich mortgage affordability research.
The reduction in costs is being driven by the South where the cost of servicing mortgages fell by 0.3 percentage points.
Over the last six months the South-west has seen the burden fall by 0.8 percentage points from 18.8 per cent to 18 per cent.
But the West Midlands, Wales and the North-east all saw their mortgage burden increase in January.
Andy Gray, head of mortgages for the Woolwich said: "There are a number of key influences on the prospects for house prices.
"One is that earnings continue to grow steadily, that base rates remain stable or fall, and finally general consumer confidence remains positive.
"At the moment we have two out of three of these with wages out pacing house price increases over the last year and interest rates looking more likely to fall than go up.
"Static house prices in the south over the last 18 months, together with increased wages, have led to a fall in the mortgage burden which may well be the reason we are seeing the beginnings of a house price recovery as has been reported in various surveys.
"The key, however, to a sustained recovery will be how the consumer feels and at the moment increasing energy bills, slowing credit card spending and nervousness on the high street is making them wary. Good news on the consumer front over the coming months could really give the housing market a long-term boost."
The figures are derived from accounts with income and mortgage payment activity.