House prices rise by £17,000

By Rebecca SheppardTHE average cost of a house in East Anglia rose by £17,000 last year, despite signs the housing market is slowing down.Government figures revealed the region now has the third highest average house price in the country, behind London and the South East.

By Rebecca Sheppard

THE average cost of a house in East Anglia rose by £17,000 last year, despite signs the housing market is slowing down.

Government figures revealed the region now has the third highest average house price in the country, behind London and the South East.

Last year's climb in prices was more than double that of 2003, which saw less than £7,500 added to the value of a typical property.


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The figures released yesterday by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also showed the average house price in the region in December was £205,387, up from £188,290 in January last year and compared with a UK average of £178,906.

Gary Smith, chairman of the Suffolk branch of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: “A lot of people outside the area are coming into Suffolk, which tends to push the prices up.

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“Suffolk is generally regarded as an area where there is a better quality of life, compared to when you get closer into London and the other Home Counties. It's got good schooling, good leisure facilities, the coast and sailing. We have got lots of nice features and pleasant countryside.

“People are also more able to work from home because of the communications and Ipswich is only one hour and 10 minutes away from London Liverpool Street.”

He added: “I would not say the rises are continuing at the same pace. The last three months of last year were slower and the prices stabilised in that period.

“However, the New Year has started off a lot more briskly. I think the market will continue to rise, but it will be at a more gradual pace than over the last couple of years.

“Interest rates are still quite low compared to traditional rates and even the Government seems to be dispelling any idea that there will be anymore rate increases.”

Meanwhile, the average price paid by first-time buyers across the whole of the

UK was £145,408 in December.

Suffolk County Council has already commissioned an in-depth study into the shortage of affordable homes in the county and has suggested ways of tackling the problem.

These include charging more than the 100% rate of council tax on second homes, which it is felt pushed up the cost of properties, particularly in coastal areas.

Council tax revenue from second homes could be ring-fenced to finance new affordable housing and local authorities could also demand higher levels of affordable housing in new developments.

Wil Gibson, chief executive of rural charity Suffolk ACRE, said: “We are concerned about the supply, particularly of local needs housing, because we think the supply is what's driving the price up.

“The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has been hinting that it will take a number of initiatives on affordable housing and key workers and we are looking forward to that.

“In terms of prices it is a case of provision. In Ipswich there have been significant developments, but the prices are not reachable for those we are concerned about.”

rebecca.sheppard@eadt.co.uk

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