House prices surprise

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The Independent Online
ANNUAL house price inflation in East Anglia and the East Midlands has moved into double figures for the first time in four years, Nationwide Building Society said yesterday, writes Peter Rodgers.

The sharp increase, of 11.2 per cent in East Anglia and 10.3 per cent in the East Midlands, came against the background of a national average house price rise of only 2.6 per cent over the year to the first quarter of 1994.

The national figures were held back by stagnation in the South-east, where the rise was only 1 per cent, and falls in South Wales and the South-west.

Nationwide said that in East Anglia prices had fallen rapidly in the recession, so they were rebounding from a low base. 'Confidence was shaken very strongly in that area,' a spokeswoman said.

East Midlands and East Anglia are a focus for growth because of their good road and port connections with the Continent and London.

Prices in the North and Northern Ireland were up by 7.7 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively over the year. In Wales, prices fell by 5.7 per cent.

An upbeat picture of building society finances was painted by John Wriglesworth, an analyst at the investment bank UBS. He said that for the second year running total bad debts were less than those of Barclays Bank. In 1993, the societies set aside pounds 1.5bn, 18 per cent less than in 1992.