Where do you stand in the Great British house price lottery? Stark contrasts in property market across regions
Tue 19 Aug 2014
House prices in the UK may be at record levels - but the contrast between the regions could hardly be starker.
The value of a typical home rose 10.2 per cent in the 12 months to June to an all-time high of 265,000,
according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.
But while average prices in England are 10 per cent above the pre-recession peak, in Northern Ireland they are
still down nearly 50 per cent, in Wales they are off more than 3 per cent and in Scotland the shortfall is nearly 2
Prices in only three out of the nine English regions measured by the ONS are higher than they were before the
London is leading the way, up 35.6 per cent, followed by the South East where the cost of the average home is
9.2 per cent higher than in January 2008 and the East where values are up 6.5 per cent.
But in the North East, where the average home is worth just 150,000 compared with 499,000 in London, values
are still 6.8 per cent below their peak.
The headline growth figure may look sizeable, but behind the scenes house price growth is more moderate and
sustainable beyond London and the South East, says David Newnes, director of Reeds Rains and Your Move
These two weighty regions distort the story and are not representative of the wider UK housing market.
More recent house price data suggests that the housing market has started to cool as buyers in London and the
South East scoff at runaway prices and worry about the prospect of higher interest rates.
A clampdown on risky mortgage lending including strict new affordability tests for borrowers has also taken
some of the heat out of the market.
Property website Rightmove recorded its biggest ever fall in asking prices this month, down 2.9 per cent or
7,758 to 262,401.
And Nationwide this week reported a drop in mortgage lending amid signs the London market in particular is
mellowing following months of break-neck growth.
Buyers and sellers must be scratching their heads at the mixed messages theyre getting, says Alex Gosling,
managing director of online estate agents Housesimple.co.uk. Is the housing market cooling or still buoyant?
He says the summer holidays are not an easy time to work out exactly what is going on, before adding: Property
prices in many parts of the UK havent recovered to pre-recession levels and local housing markets remain
extremely fragile. The last thing they need is a wave of panic hitting them from a London property market in
But many observers believe talk of a sharp slowdown is overdone and buyers will return to the market as soon as
the holidays end.
We do think we have seen a degree of cooling in recent months, says Nationwide chief executive Graham
Beale. But it still looks likely to be a short-lived downturn.
Trevor Greetham, director of asset allocation at Fidelity Worldwide Investment, adds: We dont expect weakness
to last long with the economy growing strongly, unemployment falling and base rates at a record low.
Prices are once again rising in every region, according to the ONS, with Northern Ireland more than making up
for a 0.7 per cent fall in the 12 months to May with a 4.9 per cent jump in the 12 months to June.
The pace of growth has slowed in many areas of the country, including in Wales, the North East, the West
Midlands and London.
But prices in Scotland, the North West and the South East are rising at the fastest pace since 2010.
Excluding London, average prices across the UK are back at pre-recession levels, according to the ONS.
House prices are increasing strongly across most parts of the UK, with prices in London again showing the
highest growth, the reports says.
Data from property website Zoopla shows that hot spots are popping up all over the country, including in areas
such as Salford in Greater Manchester, Brough in Yorkshire, St Leonards-on-Sea in East Sussex, Tavistock in
Devon and Hunstanton in Norfolk.
But there are also a few weak spots in the market, according to Zoopla, such as Wadebridge in Cornwall, Ryton
in Tyne and Wear and Newton-Le-Willows in Merseyside where prices are still falling.
Land Registry figures show how just a few miles can make a difference.
In the year to June, the average house price in Oldham rose by 9.2p per cent while just 30 miles down the East
Lancs Road prices in St Helens fell 3.4 per cent.
But Peter Rollings, chief executive of estate agent Marsh & Parsons, believes that while London remains top of
the leaderboard the recovery is spreading.
The UK housing market continues to move from strength to strength with widespread recovery apparent across
the country and house price growth advancing in a steady, healthy direction, he says.
Maybe so. But the recovery remains far from even.