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UK property prices higher than 2007 in just two areas

Monday 20th February 2012

Rochford in Essex and South Lakeland are the only two local authority districts in the UK where house prices are currently higher than they were in 2007, according to the latest research from Halifax.

It demonstrates that, since the peak of the housing market in 2007 and the subsequent period of declining prices, homes throughout the UK are still short of those peak historical values.

Even in Rochford (1%) and South Lakeland (0.1%), prices are only marginally above pre-recession levels. The list of 20 areas where prices have performed best since 2007 is dominated by areas in southern England with only four of the top 20 outside that part of the country.

Three of the areas outside the south in the top 20 - South Lakeland, Derbyshire Dales and Ceredigion - are popular holiday areas where there is significant housing demand from retirees and second homebuyers. This demand has helped to support prices in these locations.

Aberdeenshire is the other area outside the south in the top 20. The market here has been supported by the buoyancy of the local oil industry, which has fared very well in the past few years.

The nine worst performers in house price terms over recent years are all in Northern Ireland.  The biggest decline has been in Craigavon where the average price has more than halved from £213,844 in 2007 to £103,383 in 2011. There have been similar falls in other areas of Northern Ireland. Prices have fallen sharply in Northern Ireland following the remarkable - and ultimately unsustainable - gains in the few years leading up to 2007.  Average prices in Northern Ireland were the highest in the UK outside London and the South East in 2007.  Northern Ireland now has the lowest average prices of any region in the country.

Three of the areas with the biggest house price falls in recent years are in Wales: Wrexham, Neath Port Talbot and Flintshire.

All the areas in the bottom 20 are outside southern England.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: "The whole UK has been hit hard by the economic downturn of the last few years. There are only two areas of the country where house prices are currently higher than they were at the peak of the boom in 2007 and even here the increases are marginal.

"A striking feature of our analysis of the areas that have fared best and worst in the past four years is a distinct north-south divide.  Those areas that have weathered the storm best are nearly all in the south whereas those areas worst affected are all outside southern England.  Northern Ireland has done particularly badly as much of the sharp gains in the years prior to 2007 have since been reversed."

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Mike Jones

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