Property / The Going Rate: That sinking feeling

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The Independent Online
HENDON must be one of London's most accessible areas, with its tangle of major roads such as the M1 and North Circular, plus Tube and rail lines. These draw in a large cross-section of buyers, so it is not surprising that property values also vary widely from pounds 40,000 starter flats to pounds 1m houses. But they have one thing in common: all are sinking fast.

Stuart Kershaw of Winkworth figures a decline of between 0.5-1 per cent a month. This is no worse than other outer suburbs but asking prices still need pitching carefully to attract interest. A four-bed detached house in Sevington Road took nine months to sell, falling pounds 59,000 to pounds 100,000. Another on the Shirehall estate went in four weeks and dropped only pounds 4,000 to pounds 195,000.

A three-bed flat over shops in Cheyne Close spent 15 months on the market and came down pounds 16,000 to pounds 61,000, while a two-bed conversion in Sunny Gardens Road fell almost pounds 9,000 to pounds 71,000 in nine months. Another in Sunningfields Road took six months and dropped pounds 12,000 to pounds 62,000 but a similar sized purpose-built one in Great North Way took a month less and fell pounds 5,000 to pounds 79,000.

HARROGATE has been losing jobs through local closures but that has not had the impact that mere suspicion of unemployment has had on southern towns. 'It is still a very attractive place, with a 200-acre central park and a very posh image,' says Ian Bebbington of Black Horse Agencies.

Prices are falling, however. A three-bed suburban semi took five months to sell after dropping almost pounds 3,000 to pounds 61,000, while a huge six-bed Edwardian detached house spent seven months on the market after being repossessed, and fell pounds 35,000 to pounds 140,000. The popular fringe villages are in the same boat, with one farmhouse boasting six acres of land but needing renovation sliding pounds 14,000 down to pounds 225,000 over four months.

There are fast sales where values are correctly set. A four-bed detached house on a large estate went in eight days for pounds 115,000, although it still lost pounds 4,000. A one-bed central area flat took three weeks to drop a little less and sell for pounds 33,500, while a two-bedder spent three times as long on the market and fetched pounds 58,000 compared with the pounds 65,000 asking price.