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Property news roundup: North-South rent divide

Plus, how to buy a property at auction, firsttime buyer numbers, and latest rent increases

Latest figures from Move with Us suggest that in the last three months of 2013, rents dropped for tenants in Greater London and the South East, while rising by nine per cent in the North East and Wales, and by six per cent in Yorkshire/Humber.

"Average asking rents in the usually slower performing regions such as Wales and the North East went against the seasonal trend and increased," said Robin King, Director, Move with Us, " closing the gap between the cheapest and most expensive places for tenants to rent in the country. This is likely to have been caused by the lack of supply in the sales market in the North of England which pushed rental prices up."

Buying property at auction

Awardwinning blogger and Evening Standard columnist Sam Collett believes that the increase in investment properties being offered and bought at auction is a trend set to continue in 2014 - in 2012, 34,065 UK properties were offered at auction. Sam's new book 'How To Buy Your Property at Auction' published by Constable and Robinson is a step-by-step guide to the whole process.

Firsttime buyer numbers at six year high

There were 29,100 first-time buyer transactions in December 2013, a 30% increase on December 2012, according to LSL Property Services, the highest level since 2007. The average deposit for a first-time buyer fell to £26,533 in December, 3.6 per cent lower than the previous year although firsttime buyers took out larger mortgages - the average mortgage rose11 per cent over 2013 and reached £122,040 in December

"First-time buyers are returning to the market in their droves, as the property market emerges fully from the shadow of the financial crisis," said David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services. "There is a greater array of deals on offer to buyers with just a small deposit saved, and schemes like Help to Buy are providing vital support to help new buyers access the very best rates. As with the entire market, prices are quickly climbing upwards, but lower rates mean that mortgage repayments are still affordable, despite new buyers having to purchase property with a higher price tag."

The average first-time buyer in December was aged 31, with an annual salary of £36,621. Eight out of ten firsttime buyers wanted to buy a house rather than a flat, 44 per cent were able to self-fund their purchase and 37 per cent received financial help for a deposit from parents or relatives.

Rents up

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2013 private rental prices paid by tenants in Great Britain rose by one per cent. Rents increased in all the English regions, with the highest increases in London (1.6 per cent) and the South East (one per cent).