North-South divide in house prices is widening

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The Independent Online

The North-South divide in house prices is widening, according to new figures.

Britain's Property Rich List 2011, released by property website Zoopla.co.uk, shows that, although house prices in some of the country's most expensive areas have fallen a little over the past year, they have held up better than less expensive areas.

And while Kensington in London emerges as the most expensive place to live, most of us can only dream of living there.

With average house prices close to £1.75 million, the average UK homeowner would only be able to afford 173 sq ft in the exclusive area, according to Zoopla, which provides free online value estimates for every home in the UK.

According to the figures, the highest value areas to live are mainly in London and Surrey, with average prices ranging from £680,611 to £1,737,862.

In contrast, the lowest value areas seem to be in the North - the lowest in Middlesbrough, with others in the top 20 including Grimsby, Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull, Doncaster and Bradford, with prices ranging from £41,601 to £78,579.

Nick Leeming, business development director at Zoopla.co.uk, said: "Despite the recent property market uncertainty, Brits remain obsessed with the value of their home as well as those of their neighbours, friends and family.

"This year's Property Rich List shows an ever-widening North-South divide and, whilst house prices in some of the most expensive areas of the country have fallen a little over the past 12 months, they have held up far better than in many of the less expensive areas."

According to the list, Britain is now home to 220,131 property millionaires, down from 223,119 this time last year.

And there are now 5,922 streets where average house prices are more than £1 million.

London tops the list with the most "million pound streets" with 2,290, followed by Surrey commuter hotspot Guildford with 89 and Cobham, also in Surrey, third with 78.

The study found the most expensive place to live is Kensington, London, where an average home now costs £1,737,862.

While this is £400,000 more than nearest rival Chelsea, where the average pad will set you back £1.32 million, all top five neighbourhoods on the list boast average property prices of more than £1 million.

They also include Knightsbridge at £1.31 million, Notting Hill at £1.17 million and West Brompton at £1.05 million.

But with the average cost per square foot in Kensington at £1,193 and the average UK house price at £205,985, the average UK homeowner could only expect to get 173 sq ft.

The top 10 most expensive neighbourhoods in the country are almost entirely in the capital, with the only exception being seventh-placed Virginia Water in Surrey, where average prices are £936,653.

Topping the list of the most expensive streets in Britain is Kensington Palace Gardens, also known as Billionaires Row, where the average price is £19.2 million.

The exclusive, gated street is home to Saudi and Brunei royalty, Russian oligarchs and Britain's richest man, Lakshmi Mittal, who owns three properties on the street, according to Zoopla.

The study found the most expensive area to live in Britain is Windsor & Maidenhead, where average house prices stand at £389,120, just ahead of the London average of £387,119.

Also in the top five most expensive areas are Surrey (£371,984), Hertfordshire (£300,914) and Oxfordshire (£284,402).

And while more than half of the property millionaires in Britain reside in London, outside the capital the county with the highest number is Surrey which currently has more than 15,000.

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