Scotland and the North Dominate in List of Property Price Gains Over Last Decade

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The House Price Per Square Metre Survey examines the movement in house prices on an average price per square metre (m2) basis in 467 UK towns (including 32 London boroughs which have been classified as towns for this research). Average price per square metre is a useful measure for house price comparison, helping to adjust for differences in property size and type across areas. The average price per square metre is calculated by dividing the average house price by the average square metres per property (excluding external space). The price per square metre can be converted into price per square foot by dividing by 10.7639104.

When looking at property prices on a square metre basis, there has been a huge divergence in house price performance across the UK over the past decade, ranging from a rise of 160% in Peterhead in Aberdeenshire to 25% in Belfast.

Scotland and the North of England command the top ten positions in a new list of house price performance in the UK, according to research from Halifax. Six of the top ten towns – and all of the top four - with the highest house price growth on a per square metre basis over the past ten years are in Scotland. Peterhead has recorded the largest gain in average price per square metre (m²) over the past ten years: the Aberdeenshire town has seen an increase of 160% to £1,254 per m² in 2011 from £481 per m2 in 2001. (Table 1)

Inverurie, another Aberdeenshire town, has experienced the second largest gain in the UK (142%) since 2001 followed by Montrose (135%). The other four towns in the top ten are all in northern England. (Table 1)

The majority of towns that have seen the highest price growth over the past decade had relatively low prices in 2001. Strong economic growth over the decade as a whole has also helped to drive up prices in many of those areas that have seen substantial price gains. This is apparent in several towns in Aberdeenshire where the economy has been stimulated by the strong performance of the oil sector.

Ten towns with the smallest rises since 2001 are all in Northern Ireland and southern England. House prices in Belfast (25%) and Lisburn (31%) have increased the least on a per square metre basis since 2001. Four of the ten towns with the smallest gains are in Northern Ireland with the remainder all in southern England. The majority of towns recording the smallest rises over the decade had relatively high prices in 2001. (Table 2)

The average price per square metre is currently higher than in 2007 in only 12 areas in the UK. Epping has seen the biggest rise over this period (12%). The two best performers over the last decade as a whole have also seen increases since 2007: Peterhead (7%) and Inverurie (10%). There are five London boroughs amongst these 12 areas where prices are currently higher than in 2007, including Westminster (5%) and Islington (4%), reflecting the general outperformance of the London market compared with the rest of the country in the past two years.

Towns in Northern Ireland dominate the list of towns that have experienced the biggest falls in price per square metre since 2007, accounting for eight of the bottom ten. Craigavon (-50%), Lisburn (-48%) and Newtownabbey (-48%) have seen the biggest declines over the past four years. Most towns that have seen the biggest price falls per square metre since 2007 experienced very substantial gains in the preceding six year. Six of the ten towns recording the largest declines between 2007 and 2011 were amongst the 20 towns that saw the biggest rises during 2001-2007.

MOST EXPENSIVE AREAS

Kensington & Chelsea is the UK's most expensive area with an average price of £8,038 per m2 in 2011. All 17 most expensive areas in the UK are London boroughs. There has been very little change in the areas with the most expensive property in the past decade with nine of the ten London boroughs that make up the most expensive areas in the country also in the top ten in 2001. The only change is that Hackney has replaced Ealing. (Table 3)

Cambridge is the most expensive town on a per square metre basis outside London and the South East with an average price of £2,783 per m2.

Stratford upon Avon (£2,259) and the Cheshire towns of Wilmslow (£2,241) and Altrincham (£2,148) are the most expensive towns outside southern England. These are also the only towns not in the south that feature in the 100 with the most expensive property on a per square metre basis. (Table 4)

LEAST EXPENSIVE

Stanley in County Durham has the lowest average price (£784 per m²) of all UK towns surveyed. The average price per square metre in Stanley is less than a tenth of that in Kensington & Chelsea.

All ten towns with the lowest prices are outside the south*. Two seaside towns in Kent have the lowest prices per square metre in the South East: Dover (£1,361) and Margate (£1,378).

There has been more movement amongst the least expensive areas with only four of the ten least expensive UK towns in 2011 among the ten least expensive in 2001: Nelson, Merthyr Tydfil, Ebbw Vale and Bootle. (Table 5)

AVERAGE PROPERTY SIZE

Sevenoaks in Kent has the largest average property size in the UK: 146 m². Nantwich in Cheshire has the second biggest (144 m²). (Table 6)

Tower Hamlets has the smallest average property size in the UK, at 77 m2; about 50% of the average in Sevenoaks. Despite having the smallest property size, the price per square metre in Tower Hamlets is the tenth highest in the country. Nine of the ten areas with the smallest average property size are in Greater London. (Table 7)

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said:

"When looking at property prices on a square metre basis, there has been a huge divergence in house price performance across the UK over the past decade, ranging from a rise of 160% in Peterhead in Aberdeenshire to 25% in Belfast.

Despite these differences, there has been little change in the composition of those areas with the most and least expensive properties. Nine of the ten London boroughs that were the most expensive areas in the country in 2001 are still in the top ten whilst four of the least expensive towns in 2001 remain amongst the ten least expensive places."    

Editors' Notes:

  • Excludes towns in Greater London, South East, South West and East Anglia.

The average price per square metre is sourced from the Halifax House Price Index database and is calculated by dividing the average house price by the average square metres per property (excluding external space). Square metre per dwelling is based purely on the size of the house and does not take account of outdoor space attached to a dwelling.

The average property prices per square metre used in the release can be converted into square feet by dividing it by 10.7639104.

Data in this report is sourced from the Halifax House price index database. The Halifax House Price Index was introduced in 1983. It is based on the largest sample of mortgage data and provides the longest monthly series of any similar UK index. The index is based on the detailed records of the prices, physical characteristics and the regional location of all the houses on which the organisation has made a mortgage offer in each time period.

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Nick Osbourne
Halifax
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