House prices up most since February but only in south

Source: Reuters UK
Published: 17 October 2011

Asking prices for homes in England and Wales rose 2.8 percent in October but the gulf between prices in the north and south was its widest in at least nine years, property marketing company Rightmove said on Monday.

House prices advertised via Rightmove's website, which covers about 90 percent of homes sold via agents, showed their biggest overall rise since February.

Asking prices in northern regions, however, fell 0.7 percent, while prices in the southern regions rose 4.7 percent, led by greater London.

"For the average asking price of a property in the south you could now buy two average properties in the north and still have enough change left to buy new carpets and curtains," director of Rightmove Miles Shipside said.

Since the start of the credit crunch in 2007 asking prices in the south have risen 5.4 percent, while in the north they have fallen 9.4 percent, resulting in the biggest disparity between the two regions since records began in August 2002.

Rightmove said price decreases in the north were linked to higher unemployment figures and public sector layoffs, while more cash-rich southerners with larger deposits were able to secure low interest rates on mortgages.

Mortgage approval rates in August were their highest since the end of 2009 and nearly double their low point in April 2008, according to the Bank of England.

Rightmove includes London, southeast and southwest England and the East Anglia region in its figures for the south, with Wales and the rest of England bracketed as the north.