London hides the housing slump
Figures from the Land Registry show prices in England and Wales grew by 0.4 per cent in the past month — an annual increase of 0.7 per cent. Latest figures from Halifax bank show they grew by 1.1 per cent in the past year.
These small percentage increases may not seem much compared with the stellar rises in recent property booms, but since the credit crunch began in 2007, it is a significant improvement. However, the average disguises a growing divide between London and the South-East, and the rest of the country.
The capital, in particular, has developed its own market. The average property price is a record £375,795.
The city has not been immune from the crisis — prices fell by 15 per cent in 2009 — but have climbed steadily since then. Within London there are also hotspots. The borough of Lambeth, which includes Brixton, has climbed by 9 per cent in the past year, Camden is rising by 12 per cent a year and Wandsworth by 11 per cent.
Property prices in the South-East have risen by 1.4 per cent in the past year, with the average home now selling for £209,750. But, in the North-East the average house price is £95,546 — and has fallen by 6 per cent this year.
Since the peak in the housing market in August 2007, property values in Middlesbrough have plunged by a third from £107,497 to £72,308.
In Blackpool and Blackburn prices have dropped by 8 per cent this year.
The small ads website Gumtree is the sort of place you would normally look for a second-hand sofa or use to get rid of an unwanted table.
But today one desperate homeowner in Blackpool has listed their five-bedroom house in a last-ditch bid to find a buyer.
The property, over three floors, with a cellar and parking, is on the market for £100,000 — down from £149,000.
It sounds like a near-perfect family home. But the advert also has a hint of desperation. It suggests the property could be converted into a guest house for needy families.
The listing adds: ‘Ideal investment. Southern councils are now looking at other areas to house larger families.’
At Beresford Residential estate agents in once-edgy Brixton in South-West London, it is a different story altogether. A two-bedroom terrace house in this scruffy part of the capital now goes for between £400,000 and £500,000.
It’s an astonishing turnaround for a part of the city once tainted with a chequered history that includes race riots and drug peddling — it was once described as a 24-hour crack supermarket by the local police chief superintendent.
Prices have risen by 15 per cent over the past 12 months. As soon as a property goes on the market, the agency is flooded with inquiries. There are 100 potential buyers for every home.
Often a house is sold following a bidding war between hopefuls, and frequently the sale is decided only by sealed bids.