Expansion plan sends prices sky high

THE proposed expansion of Stansted Airport is causing house prices in Braintree to take off, an estate agent said last night.According to the Halifax House Price Index, average house prices in Braintree have soared through the £200,000 barrier – 7% up on last year's £187,000 and £4,000 more than the overall Southeast average.

THE proposed expansion of Stansted Airport is causing house prices in Braintree to take off, an estate agent said last night.

According to the Halifax House Price Index, average house prices in Braintree have soared through the £200,000 barrier – 7% up on last year's £187,000 and £4,000 more than the overall Southeast average.

The record prices represent an eight-times multiple of average Essex earnings of £25,000 a year.

Glenn Krikor, a negotiator at Connells Estate Agents in Braintree, said the new figures surprised him, but he was in no doubt as to the underlying cause.


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"It's Stansted. We've all noticed people looking at the possible new runways there and hoping there's money to be made," he said.

"You've got to remember what a good location Braintree is and with the new A120 road link about to open it's all looking quite pretty.

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He said Braintree was becoming more and more a commuter town with prices in Chelmsford moving too far out of reach for a lot of people.

This had caused a ripple effect in the last few years, he said, but he thought prices were starting to "plateau".

He said: "Two years ago, we had houses going up £1,500 a week with people fighting for each property that came on to the market.

"But it's not like that now – it's been a fairly quiet year, although it has picked up since June."

However, the boom in Colchester's property prices has come to an end according to the Halifax's survey as most towns in the south east still show strong rises.

Average prices now stand at £170,394 – a 2% fall on the £173,639 this time last year.

Barry Hayles, sales manager at Boydens estate agents in Colchester, said: "It has been a quiet year. People feel there's more room for negotiation now.

"Whereas before you had sellers putting property on the market at quite a big premium in the hope that the market would rise and catch up with that, now they have to be a bit more realistic and actually come down to market rates.

He added the buy-to-let market had also tailed off because returns there were falling, but he stressed Colchester was still good value.

"There are an awful lot of new builds in the town at the moment and these have been selling well," he said.

"But with that extra supply, you are bound to see more downward pressure on prices."

Meanwhile spiralling house prices are leaving first-time buyers and low income families struggling to raise nearly ten times the average wage to gain a foot on the property ladder in Bury St Edmunds.

Since last year, prices have soared 24%, with a typical home now costing more than £200,000 against average gross earnings in the town of £21,000.

The latest figures from Halifax, showed prices across Suffolk have risen 7% since last year, with the average house now costing £159,751.

"These prices are pushing a whole range of people out of the market – not only first time buyers but also the elderly, who may be looking for a change in accommodation," said Wil Gibson, chief executive of rural charity Suffolk ACRE.

"One of the biggest questions here is concerning supply. Areas like Sudbury and Bury face the same problem as villages – people move here and then commute to London, and of most of the new developments springing up, few could be described as affordable.

"There is the potential for towns to end up like these villages, so we have got to make sure we meet the demands of our communities and provide a good mix of housing. We need to become more sophisticated as to the needs of our population.

"Supply needs to be balanced out, with affordable – as well as social – housing provided across Suffolk, not just in growth areas such as Bury, Sudbury and Ipswich. However, the infrastructure to support such development in some of these places is currently not in place."

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