North-South divide persists in housing market

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Southend in Essex recorded the biggest house prices rises among major UK towns and cities this year, according to research by Halifax.

The average selling price in the seaside resort was 14.8 per cent higher than the previous year, rising to £198,418 by the end of 2012, compared with an improvement of 2.1 per cent on average across the whole of Essex.

Basingstoke in Hampshire experienced the second biggest rise with a 14.7 per cent gain, while three more towns within commuting distance of London – Rochester, St Albans and Dartford – make up the top five.

Most worst performers were outside southern England, with Craigavon in County Armagh down 18.4 per cent and Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, off 12.5 per cent.

Nine of the 10 towns that saw the biggest declines in prices are outside the South, reflecting the continued regional divide in the property market.

Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said: “Nationally, conditions in the housing market have been largely unchanged over the past 12 months with little overall movement in either house prices or sales for the second consecutive year. This picture, however, conceals considerable local differences.”

He expects continuing broad stability in house prices nationally in 2013, with the North/South divide in price performance likely to persist in 2013.