Property price rises indicate growing wealth gap

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The Independent Online

The number of homes sold for at least £1m across England and Wales surged by almost 25 per cent in the last yeardespite an apparent slowdown in the housing market, official figures reveal.

The number of homes sold for at least £1m across England and Wales surged by almost 25 per cent in the last yeardespite an apparent slowdown in the housing market, official figures reveal.

A quarterly report today from the Land Registry also shows a rise in the number of properties changing hands for less than £10,000. The figures will raise fears of a growing divide between rich and poor.

A total of 470 homes were bought for at least £1m each in the three months to September, 23.6 per cent up on the 380 in the same period in 1999. In London, 335 homes attracted a sevenfigure price tag, a 14 per cent rise on last summer's figure.

By contrast, 578 were sold for less than £10,000, a 6 per cent increase on the 547 a year ago. None of these sales was in London. Greater Manchester topped the league table for the number of houses sold at less than £10,000, with 193. Lancashire was second with 96 homes and Rhondda in Wales third with 49.

Estate agents in Greater Manchester have been known to offer a "buy two, get one free" deal to off-load particularly undesirable housing.

The average price of a home in England and Wales is£106,850, 3.6 per more thanrecorded in June. Prices are 9.5 per cent higher than a year ago, a marked slowdown from the 14.5 per cent annual rise recorded in June.

East Anglia, the South-West and the South-east saw annual price rises of at least 15 per cent. Prices in the North rose by less than 4 per cent and in the North-west by less than5 per cent. A property in London costs, on average, £177,665, almost three times the price of its equivalent in the North of England. The breakdown tended to mirror the wealth divide.

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