Paula John: Market news

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The Independent Online

GOING UP...

House prices in Scotland. Good news for canny Scottish homeowners – house prices north of the border saw the biggest annual increase of any region last year. The Halifax house price index reveals that average property values in the UK increased by just 5.2 per cent last year – only the second year since 2001 when prices have risen by less than the long-term average of 8 per cent. But in Scotland, property price inflation came in at 13.1 per cent for the year. The rise was largely due to the relative cheapness of homes in Scotland, where the average property costs £144,897, compared to the UK average of £197, 071.

GOING DOWN...

The proportion of homes that have been damaged by bad weather. Have you been battening down the hatches? Or at least tying up shrubs and checking the roof tiles? Increasingly turbulent British weather has put our homes at risk of damage, with roofs and gardens the worst affected. But a quarter of all damage has occurred inside our properties, for example, when loose tiles cause leaks. The research, carried out by Abbey, reports that homeowners in Wales and the South West are the most anxious about storm damage, while the Scots are the most relaxed. Are the latter used to bad weather? Or are they simply too busy watching their homes' value increase to worry?

GO FIGURE...11%

The number of people buying houses. Demand for property decreased substantially last month, according to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). It reports that the number of house buyers registered with estate agents fell from an average of 290 per agent in November to just 248 in December – the lowest figure recorded by the NAEA to date. The number of sales by agents also fell dramatically, from 9 per agent in November to just 5 per agent in December. Not such a happy Christmas for estate agents – but good news for those looking to buy this year, as there is far less competition around.

Paula John is editor-in-chief of Your Mortgage

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