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Top property hotspots all outside the South

The top 10 property hotspots over the past year are all outside Southern England and the North/South house price divide is narrowing, according to the Halifax house price index.

Crewe has seen the biggest increase in prices at 58 per cent followed by Carlisle at 55 per cent and Accrington at 54 per cent. The North-west with four towns – Crewe, Accrington, Chorley and Oldham – and Scotland with three towns – Kirkcaldy, Airdrie and Kilmarnock – are the best represented regions in the UK top 10. The smallest price rises have been in Dorset at 7 per cent, County Down and East Sussex both at 8 per cent and Essex at 10 per cent.

The difference between the average house price in London and the UK has fallen to its lowest for over five years. The average house price in the capital stood at 1.56 times the national average in 2004 Q2 compared with 1.86 times in 2001 Q2.

The North/South house price divide has narrowed over the past two years, with the average house price in London now only twice the price in the North compared with three times the price in 2002 Q2.

Halifax chief economist Martin Ellis says the rapid rise in house prices over the last two or three years in Northern Britain and Wales means that increasing numbers of first-time buyers in these parts of the country face similar difficulties to FTBs in the South in getting onto the housing ladder.

He says: “There are now signs that this, together with rises in interest rates, is causing house price inflation in the North to slow. We expect this trend to continue in the second half of the year, contributing to slower overall UK house price inflation.”

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