Making sure that the price is right
Over the past four or five years a magic trick has been conjured up that would make Paul Daniels jealous.
You make like this, but not a lot. While the economy has been battered, unemployment has risen and banks have had to be rescued, the property market appears to have tootled along oblivious to the problems beyond it. But is this really true?
Let us first look at the national picture. Since the end of 2007 house prices have - by almost all measures - gone down and, according to the Nationwide, it's been a average drop of 10 per cent (from £183,959 in September 2007 to £163,910 today).
But do you remember the dark days of 2009? It was the low point and, in March of that year, the drop stood at 18 per cent or a rock bottom of £149,709. Nevertheless, a drop of 10 per cent over a five-year period is not the house price carnage that many experts predicted if you consider the scale of the banking crisis and the downturn that followed. But how do house prices look if you consider things from a regional perspective? Pick a card, so to speak.
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The best place to own a home since the end of 2007 has been London. House prices there have – on average – recovered from their pre-crash values and, over the past year, been rising relatively fast, particularly in its celebrity and millionaire-strewn central districts.
The next best performing area of the country has been the South East, where counties such as Kent, Surrey and Sussex have dropped by 6.7 per cent since 2007. These are followed by the South West (-8.2 per cent); East and Anglia (-10.41 per cent); the West Midlands (-11.2 per cent) and the North (-12.4 per cent)
The area where prices have dropped the most is the North West, where prices have declined by 15 per cent since 2007, followed by Wales (-14.6 per cent) and Yorkshire and Humberside (-13 per cent).
The ace in the pack of cards here has been interest rates. While the last property downturn during the late 1980s and early 1990s saw prices drop by 18 per cent over a five year period – including one ten per cent drop during a single, three-month period in 1990 - this was drive by extraordinarily high mortgage rates of up to 15 per cent while today's have stuck at around between three per cent and five per cent. Let's hope they stay that way.