We’re levelling up: North/South house price divide is narrowing

Somewhere in the latest blizzard of record high house price figures and the surge in sales triggered by the stamp duty holiday, one thing has been overlooked: the great North South divide is decreasing.

A home is still far more expensive in London than Middlesbrough, but the difference is diminishing. 

For example, Zoopla says house prices in the capital rose a meagre 0.3 per cent in the past year, whereas in Middlesbrough they soared 10.06 per cent.

On the rise: Waterfront homes in Scarborough’s harbour. Property website Zoopla reports the hottest housing markets are in Yorkshire, Humberside and the North-West

And the same website reports that the country’s hottest housing markets right now are not in leafy Surrey or posh Central London, but in Yorkshire, Humberside and the North-West, as the pandemic property world undergoes its own ‘levelling up’ exercise.

It’s not just prices. The time between listing a home for sale and a buyer’s offer being accepted in the North of England is now three weeks quicker than in 2019, while the areas boasting the fastest sales are Wigan, Barnsley and Burnley, claims Zoopla. 

Again, contrast that with London, where homes now take two weeks longer to find a buyer than in 2019.

Nor is the trend likely to be a flash in the pan, with estate agency Savills forecasting that the North-West and Yorkshire and the Humber will lead UK house price growth with rises of 6.0 per cent in 2022 and 5.5 per cent in 2023.

And by the end of 2025, Savills predicts the North West will enjoy an eye-watering 28.8 per cent rise overall.

Across the UK, the average increase is set to be 21.1 per cent, while London stubbornly stays in the slow lane with only 12.6 per cent growth.

‘Some of the price rises we have seen were overdue; country prices had lagged well behind London for years and some re-balancing was required,’ says James Greenwood, managing director of the Stacks Property Search buying agency.

There are exceptions to the rule; the biggest of all being Cornwall, where demand has reached a record high since the start of the pandemic.

Tiny St Mawes sits on the south Cornwall coast, lined with holiday homes and fashionable hotels such as the Tresanton and The Idle Rocks.

It has seen the biggest rise in average prices of any seaside town over the past year, jumping nearly 48 per cent from £339,912 to £501,638 — the largest rise in the ‘race for space’ as people have quit the big cities for countryside and coast.

Can Cornwall keep this kind of appeal — and price tag — when homes in the north are still much cheaper?

Josephine Ashby, of John Bray & Partners, one of the county’s top agencies, says: ‘Cornwall has always been popular for its incredible landscapes and coastline. 

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