House prices exceed £100,000 everywhere

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The Independent Online

House prices have broken through the £100,000 barrier in every county in the UK for the first time, according to a new report published today.

House prices have broken through the £100,000 barrier in every county in the UK for the first time, according to a new report published today.

Halifax, the UK's largest mortgage lender, said last year saw the final 16 counties reach the six-figure level for their average property price. The major engine was Northern Ireland where all six counties now average £100,000-plus compared with just one at the end of 2003.

Northern Ireland also boasted the highest increase thanks to a 39 per cent rise in house prices in County Fermanagh, which includes the town of Enniskillen, to an average of £111,187 last year.

The least expensive county in 2004 was County Tyrone, also in Northern Ireland, on £102,959, while the most expensive county was Surrey with £345,485. The 12 most expensive counties in the UK were all in the south of England and each had an average house price of more than £200,000, Halifax said.

In contrast, no county in the northern regions of England or in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland had an average house price above £200,000.

Martin Ellis, Halifax's chief economist, said the larger increases in counties outside the Home Counties had helped narrow the traditional north-south divide. "The housing market across the country has slowed significantly over the past six months as affordability considerations have begun to bite," he said.

"There was a clear tendency for those counties experiencing the strongest price gain in 2004 to be the ones where average prices were amongst the least expensive in the country. Similarly, the most expensive counties, in the main, saw the smallest price rises," he said.

Six of the 10 counties recording the biggest percentage price increases in 2004 had an average price of less than £100,000 in 2003. At the other end of the spectrum, the smallest price gain in mainland UK last year - 7 per cent - was in Hertfordshire, where homes change hands for an average of £265,000.

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