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Boom in Bootle house prices; `Poorest region' sees 44% increase in a year.

Byline: CHRIS BROWN

ONE of Merseyside's most deprived areas has enjoyed the country's third highest rise in property prices over the past 12 months, new figures have revealed.

Average property prices in Bootle have risen by 44% in the past year, according to the Halifax house price Index.

The revelation came as on-line estate agency Rightmove last night said it did not expect homeowners to suffer another mortgage rate rise before Christmas because recent increases had ``skimmed the froth'' from the housing market.

The company said the market was continuing to cool with the annual rate of increase in asking prices dipping from 16. 4% in September to 13. 4% this month, the steepest fall for more than a year.

Bootle's apparent renaissance as a destination for home buyers is in sharp contrast to a report published five years ago which labelled it the poorest region in Britain in a survey of household incomes.

It showed families surviving on average incomes of pounds 8, 200 per year.

Last night, Bootle Labour MP Joe Benton said: ``It is a double-edged sword. It is well known that Bootle is on the rise.

``Employment is on the up and the area has improved over the last five or six years.

``On the other hand, it is now more difficult for first-time buyers to get into the housing market. ''

Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales recorded the biggest increase in prices (53%), followed by Bingley in West Yorkshire (46%), according to the report.

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 and, as a result, the differential between the average house price in London and the UK has fallen to its lowest for six years in percentage terms.

Martin Ellis, Halifax chief economist, said: ``Areas outside southern England have seen the strongest house price rises over the past year.

``The much stronger house price rises in northern Britain during the last three years have resulted in a significant narrowing in the North-South house price divide, although the gap remains wider than it was 10 years ago. ''

p THE possibility of a major housing price crash in the UK is ``remote'', a report has claimed.

Recent suggestions of a 20% or even 40% fall in prices were dismissed by Ernst and Young's Item Club, which forecast a soft landing for the housing market.

The study also said the UK economy was ``firing on all four cylinders'' despite record high oil prices.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 18, 2004
Words:430
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