Bradford sees country’s biggest rise in house prices over year

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BRADFORD has seen the largest increases in house prices of anywhere in the country over the last 12 months, according to figures by Nationwide.

The ten per cent rise, which takes the average property value in the city to £158,401, is almost double price rises in London and is ten times the national average of 1.1 per cent.

Across Yorkshire, values rose by 1.6 per cent, leaving the average house in the county costing £134,467. This remains significantly less than the national average of £163,822 despite the gap closing slightly.

The building society said the market was “surprisingly resilient” despite record high unemployment, “anaemic” economic growth and mortgage approvals standing at around half their long-term levels.

Property prices fell by one per cent in Leeds, two per cent in West Yorkshire and four per cent in North Lincolnshire, but the trend was upward in all other parts of the county.

York remains the most expensive place to live, with the average property valued at £212,963, while South Yorkshire is the cheapest part of the region at £138,610.

But even desirable property hotspots in the county remain well short of prices in London, where the average price is currently just 1.6 per cent below the all-time high.

Prices in Camden, Greenwich, Hackney and Westminster have doubled over the past decade.

Figures for the past 12 months in Yorkshire continue the trends of the last decade, during which property prices have more than doubled in Bradford, East Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “The one per cent rise in house prices recorded over the past 12 months can hardly be described as a strong performance, but against a backdrop of anaemic economic growth and a deteriorating labour market, UK house prices are surprisingly resilient in 2011.

“Although high rates of unemployment, falling real wages and the uncertain economic outlook kept many potential homebuyers on the sidelines, the supply side of the market was similarly squeezed.

“Thanks to continued low interest rates, the number of forced sales remained low.

“Together with a dearth in building activity in recent years, this prevented a glut of unsold homes from accumulating on the market.

“This meant that although demand and supply were both weak, they remained relatively well-matched.”

While prices went up in Yorkshire and the Humber, the South-East and London and its commuter belt, they nose-dived in Northern Ireland where average values are now half their 2007 peak at £113,614.

Mr Gardner added that the market would remain in the buyers’ favour if the employment picture didn’t show dramatic signs of recovery in 2012.

He said: “2012 isn’t shaping up to be much better than 2011, for the UK economy or the housing market.

“There is no sign of an end to the Eurozone crisis and, since the single currency area is the UK’s largest trade partner, this will continue to weigh on our export performance at a time when the UK is unusually reliant on international trade to drive its recovery.

“With the UK economy struggling to gain momentum, labour market conditions are likely to remain challenging in 2012, deterring buyers from entering the housing market.

“This may tip the demand/supply balance in favour of buyers.

“However, there are few indications that a flood of properties is about to hit the market, so tight supply conditions will continue to provide some support for prices.”