Click to follow
The Independent Online
Newbury, the Berkshire town that saw property prices fall 30 per cent when the boom ended, is leading the way out of recession. The latest Property Watch survey by Strutt & Parker shows prices in the area rising steeply as a result of heavy demand for the few houses which come up for sale. Seven out of the last 11 sales in its Newbury office were agreed within a month.

Strutt & Parker compares sales of houses in three categories: a three- bedroom cottage in half an acre, a five-bedroom house in two acres and a nine-bedroom listed house in 17.5 acres. In the five-bedroom category, its Newbury office has seen prices rise from just over pounds 400,000 in 1993 to pounds 450,000 in 1994 and pounds 500,000 this year.

St Albans in Hertfordshire and Lewes in Sussex have been the other strong performers in 1995, with the market being led by families moving out of London. Harrogate reports strong demand for country cottages and Exeter for period family houses. Five of the last six properties sold by Strutt & Parker's Exeter office have gone for more than the guide price.

The one region that has still not recovered from the body-blow it took in the recession is East Anglia. In Norwich, agents say house prices are the same now as nine years ago, continuing the fall that began in 1990. In Ipswich, prices for properties over the pounds 300,000 mark have fallen by as much as 10 per cent this year, though demand remains strong in the pounds 150,000 to pounds 250,000 range.

For What It's Worth

The one region where the graph of property prices has consistently fallen since the boom is the north west of England. Agents in the region report a crisis of confidence among home-owners. They say first-time buyers are prefering new homes to second-hand properties, which are consequently continuing to fall in price. Andrew Steele of Black Horse Agencies in Burnley, writing in the monthly report of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, says: "Very low priced terraces under pounds 10,000 are selling well to investors. Terraces above pounds 20,000 are very slow. Low priced semis between pounds 40,000 and pounds 50,000 sell well. All other property is difficult unless discounted prices are available - everyone has to negotiate."

Who's Moving

A shark hangs from the ceiling of Sam Neal's penthouse flat, possibly a souvenir from one of his movies such as Heavenly Creatures. The actor is leaving his apartment, converted from a Victorian piano factory in Kentish Town, north London. Apart from the shark, it has a vast reception room with five windows, a galleried study, roof terrace, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It is being sold by John D Wood in St John's Wood (0171- 722 5556) with a guide price of pounds 325,000.

The 18th-century cob-and-stone Thatch Cottage is at the end of a row of three in the village of Strete on the cliffs overlooking Start Bay, five miles down the coast from Dartmouth. It is basically a well-kept two-up, two-down, but with the luxury addition of an upstairs bathroom and a downstairs utility room. The garden, like most of the rooms, has a sea view. Marchand Petit in Kingsbridge (01548 857588) is asking pounds 79,950.