Sales in the North outstrip the South… Bury is new hotspot!

North outperforms the south over the past year

Bury is the country’s leading property sales hotspot, according to new research by Halifax. Sales of homes in the Greater Manchester town of Bury have risen by 44% over the first six months of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010, more than in any other town in England and Wales.

The substantial increase in property sales in Bury since 2010 has been driven by a marked rise in the level of activity at the lower end of the housing market with flats and terraced homes accounting for 77% of the overall rise in sales.

The four towns that recorded the biggest rises in residential property sales since 2010 – Bury, Leigh, Rugeley and Houghton Le Spring – are all in the north of England. However, several of these areas have seen high growth from a relatively low base level of sales. Leigh in Greater Manchester (32%) and the Staffordshire town of Rugeley (30%) saw the next biggest increases after Bury. Outside northern England, the seaside destination of Great Yarmouth recorded the biggest increase in home sales (27%).

Despite the recent strong growth in home sales, total transaction levels in the ten top performing towns over the past year are still 42% lower than a decade ago. Sales in Bury – the country’s leading property sales hotspot – are 42% lower than 2001.

Nine of the ten towns that recorded the biggest declines in property sales over the past year are in southern England. The Hertfordshire town of Hoddesdon (-39%) saw the largest drop in sales, followed by Buckingham (-34%). Aberdare in Wales (-33%) is the only town outside southern England to appear among the ten worst performing towns.

This is stark contrast to last year’s results when, between 2009 and 2010, eight of the ten towns that recorded the biggest rises in property sales are in southern England.

All regions saw a fall in sales between the first halves of 2010 and 2011. The North recorded the smallest fall (-2.2%), the North West (-4.8%) and the West Midlands (-4.9%) saw the next smallest declines. The number of home sales in London fell by 11.3% over the period, more than in any other region. The South West (-11.1%) and South East (-10.7%) experienced the next largest declines. In total, property sales across England and Wales have fallen by 8.7% over the past year.

Suren Thiru, Halifax housing economist, said: “A number of towns across England and Wales have experienced a significant rise in home sales over the past year despite the more subdued picture across the country as a whole. Many of the top performing towns are in the north, reflecting a reversal of 2010 when the housing market in southern England outperformed the north. The relatively favourable levels of affordability in many of the top performing northern towns have helped to support housing market activity in these locations, albeit from historically low levels.”.

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