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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 11:02 GMT
House price divide widens
Looking in an estate agent's window
Property prices vary sharply across the UK
The average price of a house in the UK has risen 75% in the last 10 years, but the north-south divide is growing, a report says.

Some areas of south east England saw property prices rise more than 200% in the 1990s, the Halifax bank said.

In some parts of Scotland, however, house prices have actually fallen.

The Halifax said the divide become more pronounced during the 10 years to the end of 2001.

London skyline
Prices are highest in London and the South East
Halifax's list of the top 20 places that have seen the biggest rises in that time included 13 places in Greater London and the South East, while 19 of the bottom 20 towns were in northern England or Scotland.

Prices in Greater London, south east England, south west England and East Anglia rose "significantly more" than the north of England, Scotland and Wales, the report said.

The 82 most expensive places to buy a house in the UK are all in Greater London and south east England.

The lowest prices can be found in Aberdare, in south Wales, and in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear - where an average house costs 43,000.

Property 'still affordable'

Northern Ireland saw the biggest regional price rises, with average values up 139%, while Scotland's average house price gained just 33%.

Thames Ditton, in Surrey, was the town with the steepest rise in house prices, up 206%.

At the opposite extreme Ardrossan, in Ayrshire, saw property values fall 6%.

But the Halifax insisted that property remained affordable.

According to the group the average property costs four times average earnings, which is above the long-term average of 3.6 but "comfortably below" the peak of five times earnings in 1989.

Interest down

Interest rate cuts during the past year have also reduced the proportion of gross earnings taken up by mortgage repayments from 22% to 15% - the lowest proportion since 1983.

Martin Ellis, Halifax Group Economist, said: "Although there has been a huge variation in house price growth across the country, there is little doubt that homeowners have done very well over the past 10 years.

"The scale of the increase in house prices in many of the country's towns over the last 10 years demonstrates that residential property is a very good long-term investment.

"In the overwhelming majority of towns in the UK, house prices have risen by more than the 30% increase in retail prices over the period."

See also:

19 Feb 02 | Business
House prices rise sharply
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