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Last Updated: Monday, 9 August, 2004, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Buyers camp out for new homes
College Mews development, Ebbw Vale
The 41 new houses in College Mews were sold in a morning
A former steelmaking area which once claimed the lowest house prices in the UK has seen a rise of 59% in the cost of property - the sharpest in Britain.

A new rail link and the redevelopment of former industrial sites is fuelling the price rises, according to estate agents.

Last year, the town of Abertillery was identified as the cheapest place to buy property in the UK. But the opening of a new housing development in Ebbw Vale at the weekend saw buyers camp out overnight to claim properties.

The first phase of the College Mews development of 41 new homes, starting at £130,000, was sold within minutes on Saturday morning.
A three-bedroomed mid terrace would have gone for £37-38,000, it is now in the £80,000s
Jeanne Fry-Thomas, estate agent

"The response from house buyers has been phenomenal," said Sian Spear, sales director with developers Persimmon.

Jeanne Fry-Thomas, of Bairstow Eves Countrywide estate agents, said she knew of one prospective buyer who tried to get in the queue at 0800 BST on Saturday morning - but he was number 26 in the queue.

"The turning point in the housing market in Blaenau Gwent was last March 2003," she said.

"A three-bedroomed mid terrace would have gone for £37-38,000, it is now in the £80,000s.

"I can remember showing people around a house picked up in auction for £7,000 and someone wasn't keen and I said people spend more than that on a car.

Homes for sale at reduced prices in the past
House prices have jumped after the bargains of earlier years

"Those sort of houses needed a cash buyer or needed a lot of work on them.

"For years three-bedroomed houses in Blaina were going for £34,000 - without fail.

"But now those houses have doubled, if not tripled, in price."

Mrs Fry-Thomas added that new buyers from outside south Wales were taking advantage of lower prices.

She said although home owners in Blaenau Gwent may be happy, the first-time buyer could struggle to get their foot on the property ladder.

"People used to say there is no capital growth in a house in Blaenau Gwent - it's not like that now," she said.

The former mining and steel manufacturing area has recently been home to some of the UK's cheapest property prices.

Last year, the Halifax identified Abertillery as the cheapest place to buy a house, with an average property selling for £37,872.

In 2002, baronet Dai Llewellyn sold six houses in Llanhilleth, in the south of Blaenau Gwent, for just £100 each.

But the latest figures from the Land Registry - based on actual sales - showed an increase of 59% in Blaenau Gwent house prices in just 12 months, the sharpest increase in the UK.

According to the figures, the average house price in Blaenau Gwent went up from £41,646 to £66,078 in between April to June 2003 and the same period in 2004.

For the first time the average price of a detached house in Blaenau Gwent has broken the £100,000 barrier - rising from £91,138 to£133,181.

Property prices soar in Wales
09 Aug 04  |  Wales
£100 tag for valleys houses
13 Nov 02  |  Wales

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