The going rate: It's up and under in Wakefield

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The Independent Online
WAKEFIELD is no stranger to a roller-coaster housing market. 'Property has always been boom or bust here,' says Nicholas Shields, a chartered surveyor at agents Dixon Coles and Gill. Over the years prices have reflected the varying fortunes of farming, coal-mining and local government in the West Yorkshire (formerly West Riding) county town.

Here, prices of houses can equal a few months' depreciation on a mansion in Leeds or London. A semi-detached bungalow, for instance, went for pounds 48,000 in a couple of months after dropping pounds 2,000 from the asking price. A three-bedroom semi requiring modernisation fell slightly more over a similar period to pounds 42,500.

In the fringe villages, hard times mean even lower prices. A two-bedroom cottage dropped pounds 5,000 over three months to sell at pounds 35,000, and a two-bedroom terrace slipped pounds 4,000 to pounds 26,000 in nine months. Times are also tough further up the market: a four-bedroom detached house in the select suburb of Sandal took almost as long to sell after being marketed for pounds 120,000, finally going for pounds 105,000.

WIMBLEDON village is seen almost as a country town, even though buried in suburban London. 'The village atmosphere and easy access to town attracts and holds people, so prices have not been hit as hard as in some neighbouring areas,' says Richard Jackson of Chestertons Residential. But a one-bedroom flat in Church Road fell pounds 18,000 in three months to sell at pounds 110,000 and a two-bedroom flat in Arterberry Road took 18 months to sell at pounds 75,500, down pounds 35,000.

A four-bedroom house in Marryat Road needed about a third of that time to go, falling pounds 25,000 to pounds 500,000. Another in Coombe Hill took four months before selling at pounds 255,000, about pounds 45,000 down.

However, as the deadline looms for ending the Government's stamp duty holiday (19 August), deals are being pushed through on homes which have been slow to sell. Chestertons took on two two-bedroom flats in Calonne Road and The Drive which had been available for a year and six months respectively at pounds 125,000 and pounds 159,000. Both found buyers within a week - although at prices almost 10 per cent below the original.