Property News

Price lift from universities; Threat of cracks; Students swell ranks of London flathunters
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The Independent Online

Twelve out of 15 university towns and cities outperform the UK price average - Halifax

As the latest batch of A-level students get their results, parents wanting to buy a home for their child in a university town will be interested to see how property prices have risen in the locations of the top-rated universities. Bath may be number 12 in the top 20 league tables but it has the highest average increase of 126 per cent from £100,807 in 1999 to £227,624 in 2003. According to figures from the Halifax, York is second with a 96 per cent increase (£80,634 to £157,803), followed by Edinburgh with 92 per cent (£84,044 to £160,967). Oxford, second to Cambridge in the league tables, had an average property price is £269,862 - higher than London, where the average increase was only 46 per cent (£177,410 to £258,865). Warwick had the lowest increase of 39 per cent (£122,428 to £170,413). Manchester had the lowest average property prices at £100,878 although the city still managed a 65 per cent increase. Parents who made investments four years ago will be pleased that 12 out of the 15 university towns and cities have seen property prices outperform the UK average of 72 per cent for the same period.

Cracks may begin to show after hot spell

The recent heatwave could have played havoc with your foundations, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Homeowners returning from holiday are being urged to check their properties for signs of cracking. Cracks more than 3mm wide are considered to be serious, especially if they pass through brickwork or stone. Long stretches of hot weather and low rainfall can lead to subsidence due to the loss of water from shrinkable subsoil. It is a major threat to houses built with shallow foundations - most commonly seen in pre-1970 houses, especially Edwardian and Victorian. The institution has written a free brochure, What to do when the earth moves, available from its contact centre on 0870-333 1600.

Students swell ranks of London flathunters

Demand for rental accommodation in London is expected to enjoy a late summer boost, according to lettings and sales agent Rental demand usually rises between August and October when students and young professionals come to major cities to start courses or employment contracts. It can equate to a 10 per cent increase in rents compared to winter levels. The agency says that early indications of a recovery in investment banking and IT consulting sectors should also sustain the rental market. "Young professionals are being recruited but their confidence in employment prospects is not yet at the level where they feel comfortable taking on the long-term commitment of buying a home."

Parents skip holidays to help kids buy

More than a third of adults still living at home choose to stay because they like their home comforts, but a further third admit that high property prices leave them with no other choice. The Skipton Building Society's survey also showed that parents will go without to try to help their children hop on to the property ladder. Around 23 per cent have forgone their annual holiday and one in 10 have missed debt repayments in order to hand over cash for children to go it alone. A quarter of couples would also give money to their children without telling their partner, with mothers being a softer touch than dad. Around 27 per cent of mothers would give money in secret compared to just 14 per cent of dads.