Southern comfort as house prices rise beside the seaside

North-South divide reflected in changes to property values, Halifax survey shows

Seven miles of beaches, 40 minutes on the train into London and the world's longest leisure pier are proving difficult to resist for Britain's recession-hit house buyers. Southend-on-Sea, once the favourite seaside spot for England's Georgian-era tourists, is now the best-performing place in the UK housing market.

New research by the Halifax, based on its own housing data, has recorded a rise of 14.8 per cent in the Essex town's property prices. Over the past year the average selling price for a house in Southend has gone from £172,782 to £198,418.

The performance is almost matched by other London commuter towns in the South-east, which have experienced the UK's highest price rises in 2012.

Basingstoke in Hampshire has seen the second-biggest rise with a gain of 14.7 per cent. And three other commuter towns – Rochester, St Albans and Dartford – continue to reflect the economic influence of London.

Durham in the North-east is the only town in Halifax's top 10 largest risers that isn't in, or on the margins of, South-east England. All of the top 10 show average price rises above 11.5 per cent.

The widening gulf between the South-east and the rest of the UK's flatlining regional economies is also exposed when it comes to the worst property-performing locations. Craigavon in the north of Co Armagh in Northern Ireland has experienced the worst slump, with prices falling by 18.4 per cent over 2012. The average Craigavon property is now £91,530, down from £112,172 last year. Although the fall in Wishaw in central Scotland was 12.5 per cent, the average house in the North Lanarkshire town can now be bought for £87,410 – the lowest level of any UK property measured by Halifax's housing data.

Four towns in Scotland and four in the North of England are ranked in the 10 worst performers. Grays in Thurrock, 20 miles east of London, is the only town in the South-east to make it into the worst performers of 2012 with a price fall of 7.3 per cent.

Martin Ellis, Halifax's housing economist, said: "Nationally, conditions in the housing market have been largely unchanged over the past 12 months with little overall movement in either house prices or sales for the second consecutive year."

But he added that this wider picture concealed considerable local differences, with a number of towns and cities recording significant changes in house prices over the past 12 months.

"Several towns within easy commuting distance of the capital feature in the list of top performers, whilst the majority of towns that have fared worst in house price terms are outside southern England, where economic conditions have generally been less favourable," he said.

According to Halifax's current forecast, broad stability in house prices nationally are expected for the coming year, when the North-South divide is also likely to continue.

The bank's optimism is not, however, shared by the Office for National Statistics, which recently indicated that house prices in the South-east could be slowing. Central London price growth is also expected to slow following the introduction of the seven per cent stamp duty rate for homes valued at more than £2m.

Winners and losers: UK house prices

Towns with biggest price rises

1. Southend On Sea, Essex, average house price £198,418 (+14.8% on last year)

2. Basingstoke, Hampshire, £220,320 (+14.7%)

3. Rochester, Kent, £184,908 (+13.3%)

4. St Albans, Hertfordshire, £371,131 (+13%)

5. Dartford, Kent, £209,557 (+13%)

Towns with biggest price falls

1. Craigavon, Northern Ireland, £91,530 (-18.4%)

2. Wishaw, Scotland, £87,410 (-12.5%)

3. Chorley, Lancashire, £125,156 (-9.4%)

4. Carlisle, Cumbria, £123,100 (-9.3%)

5. Wirral, Merseyside, £160,375 (-9.3%)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?