Region loses out in property boom

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HOMES IN Yorkshire dropped in value this year while the rest of the UK experienced a surge in property prices, research has revealed.

For the second year in a row, Yorkshire and the Humber is the only region where house prices have fallen annually, recording an average decrease of £2,443. While houses nationally have risen an average of £42 a day on to their value, the region witnessed a decrease of minus 1.6 per cent, according to property website Zoopla.

A run-down of the worst-performing towns and cities in the UK was dominated by Yorkshire with Hull, Huddersfield, Barnsley, Rotherham, Leeds and Doncaster all featuring in the top 10. Bradford, where the price tag of homes has edged up by an average of £978 over the past 12 months, took the top spot in the list of the weakest areas.

In contrast, property values in London typically leapt by £81,619. Southern parts of the country dominated the list of the best-performing areas. The capital, the South-East and South-West were all among the top five. In Scotland, the average price of a house leapt by 6.7 per cent, while Wales witnessed a rise of 3.6 per cent.

Newcastle, Reading, Dundee, Bristol and Milton Keynes also recorded particularly strong performances in terms of house price increases this year, Zoopla said.

Experts have held up the regional disparity as evidence of the “huge variations in the pace of the financial recovery across the UK”.

At the start of 2014, a wave of pent-up demand from house hunters was unleashed into the property market, following the full launch of the Government’s flagship Help to Buy mortgage support scheme in late 2013.

By the middle of the year, however, there were signs that demand was starting to cool, as speculation mounted over exactly when the Bank of England might start to increase the base rate from its historic 0.5 per cent low, a move which would spell increased mortgage costs.

Stricter mortgage lending rules were also introduced in April, which meant that people looking to buy a home or remortgage had to provide lenders with more detailed information about their spending habits. The measures were designed to allow lenders to work out whether or not the home loan they were applying for was truly affordable.

Despite the recent lull there are signs that housing market activity could pick up again in the new year, following the complete overhaul of Stamp Duty unveiled in the Autumn Statement.

Zoopla spokesman Lawrence Hall said: “The property market has maintained its momentum during 2014, with price increases across most of the country despite initial concerns that the spate of regulatory policies designed to prevent risky lending would curb demand.

“More regions this year saw property prices increase compared with last year, indicating that the property market recovery continues and that the buoyancy will likely continue in 2015.”