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Regional divide in housing recovery; Prices nudge ahead but only in South East.

Byline: Nicky Burridge

HOUSE prices edged ahead by 0.2% during September as the market continued to recover - but there is growing ebidence of a north/ south divide, a new report claims.

The average home in England and Wales is now worth pounds 156,100, only 5.6% less than a year ago, according to property intelligence group Hometrack. But it said the price rises seen during the past two months were concentrated in only a small part of the market. Just 15% of postcode areas saw an increase during September, while prices remained unchanged in 84% of areas.

Richard Donnell, Hometrack's director of research, said: "Continuing a trend of recent months, the headline growth masks what is essentially a London and South East story where house prices continue to be propped up by a shortage of quality homes for sale.

"Outside southern England the lack of supply is less pronounced and it is a modest pick-up in sales and improved market sentiment that is supporting prices to the point where they have been trading sideways."

Prices in London and the South East rose by 0.4% and 0.3% respectively during September, while they edged ahead by 0.1% in the South West and West Midlands, but in all other regions, including the North East, prices were unchanged.

The number of sales agreed across England and Wales rose by 2.5% during the month, but there was only a 0.1% rise in the number of people putting their homes up for sale.

Economists have attributed the recent stabilisation in the property market to the shortage of houses for sale, which is providing some support to prices.

Mr Donnell said: "While a lack of housing for sale is providing a support to prices, talk of a general improvement in properties and equities is leading to increased market confidence.

"However, a fundamental imbalance still exists between supply and demand and question marks remain as to how long this situation can last."

The research also showed a pick-up in the average time it takes for a property to sell, with this falling to 8.6 weeks.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 28, 2009
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