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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 October, 2004, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
Wales houses top price index
Estate agent speaking with prospective buyer
London homes saw the smallest price rises
House prices have risen the most in Wales and northern England during the past year, the Halifax House Price Index shows.

Wales topped the list, rising 38% in the year, while the North was up 37%, the North West up 31% and Yorkshire and the Humber up 27%.

The smallest gains were seen in London, which rose by just 8%, and the South East - up only 11%.

Welsh towns topped the list of hotspots, with three in the top ten.

Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales recorded the biggest increase in prices at 53%, with Neath up 43% and Port Talbot properties rising 42%.

Merthyr Tydfil, Mid-Glamorgan 53%
Bingley, West Yorkshire 46%
Bootle, Merseyside 44%
Hastings, East Sussex 44%
Neath, West Glamorgan 43%
Port Talbot, West Glamorgan 42%
Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Cleveland 41%
Corby, Northamptonshire 40%
Cramlington, Northumberland 40%
Hamilton, Strathclyde 39%
Source: Halifax House Price Index

On a county level, properties in Gwynedd (40%) and West Glamorgan (38%) saw the biggest rises over the last year.

The smallest rises were in Cambridgeshire (6%), East Sussex and Essex (both 7%), and Berkshire and West Sussex (both 8%).

Nine of the 10 counties recording the smallest increases were in southern England.

The figures indicate that the difference between the average house price in London and the UK has fallen to its lowest for six years in percentage terms.

The average price of a London house was 1.50 times the national average in the third quarter of 2004 compared with a peak of 1.87 times at the same time three years ago.

The average London price is less than twice that in the North, as against three times in the same quarter in 2002.

Despite this, the North-South divide remains wider than it was 10 years ago when the average price in London was only 1.25 times the national average.

In Northern Ireland, the average house price has broken through the 100,000 barrier for the first time to 106,445.

Continuing trend

Scotland remains the only part of the UK where the average price is below this mark, standing at 99,904.

Martin Ellis, Halifax Chief Economist, said: "Whilst prices continue to rise more rapidly in the North, there are increasing signs that house price inflation here is slowing as first-time buyers face similar difficulties to those in the South in buying a home, and as the effects of the recent series of interest rate rises bite.

"We expect this trend to continue over the coming months, with prices slowing most markedly in the North, contributing to slower UK house price inflation."

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