South-east housing boom zone 'is a myth'

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The Independent Online

An analysis of house prices according to postcodes has found that some of the least valuable properties in the country can be found just miles - or even yards - from some of the priciest.

An analysis of house prices according to postcodes has found that some of the least valuable properties in the country can be found just miles - or even yards - from some of the priciest.

The survey by a leading estate agent aims to show that the North-South divide in the housing market is a myth and that massive discrepancies in house prices, sometimes up to £250,000 differences, are linked to a wide range of issues.

The map, produced by FPD Savills, found that 55.4 per cent of all homes worth over a quarter of a million pounds are outside the boom zone of London and south-east England.

It said high-value housing could be found close to most big cities in the North and some of the least valuable on the south coast. But in both cases this could be a mile from homes at the other end of the market.

Yolande Barnes, head of research at Savills, said: "This new data explodes the fiction that all house-price differences are the result of latitude."

It found the average price of a home in the Cheshire postcode CH64 9xx (Neston) was £52,283 while those in the CH64 1xx code (Willaston) - a fraction of a mile away - were worth £298,500. The pattern is repeated across the country with swings of £80,000 within the M28 area (Walkden, Greater Manchester), of £100,000 in Birmingham B15 (Edgbaston) and of £50,000 in TN35 area of west Hastings.

On a nationwide scale, Savills said many of the "coldest" house-price spots were within large and old cities, ports and seaside towns where there was urban decay, ageing and poor housing stock and low demand. There were examples of these in London, seaside Sussex and rural Kent as well as Merseyside and Greater Manchester and Tyneside.

At the same time, there were pockets of high demand and high prices on the edge of cities such as Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. "The incidence of hot and cold spots results from a complex assortment of variations in the overall pattern of supply and demand, rather than distance from London," Ms Barnes said.

She said the misconception of a North-South divide needed to be replaced with an understanding that there were several divisions within the housing market. This included a split between rural and urban areas, between "old" and "new" economic regions and between areas attracting migrants and those suffering a brain drain. This meant that prices of homes in urban areas linked to redundant manufacturing activity had fallen, while village housing close to new services-based clusters had soared.

Hot spots included the M40 and M4 motorway corridors and Oxford and Cambridge, while South Wales, the Pennines, Liverpool, Tyneside and Kent were symptomatic of the decline of traditional industries.

Ms Barnes said these economic trends had triggered cycles of prosperity and poverty as workers migrated between regions in search of work. But she warned that these new boom areas could soon become victims of their own success.

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