House prices treble in 10 years

HOUSE prices in Essex and Suffolk have nearly tripled in the past 10 years, new figures reveal.In Suffolk, prices rose by 192% between 1996 and 2006, from an average of £58,679 to £171,216, while in Essex they jumped by 198%, from £69,936 to £208,738.

HOUSE prices in Essex and Suffolk have nearly tripled in the past 10 years, new figures reveal.

In Suffolk, prices rose by 192% between 1996 and 2006, from an average of £58,679 to £171,216, while in Essex they jumped by 198%, from £69,936 to £208,738.

Average house prices have at least trebled since 1996 in almost one in three counties across the country.

Prices have at least doubled over the past ten years in all 102 counties analysed as part of the survey, carried out Halifax building society.

But one estate agent has warned the building boom of flats in Suffolk and Essex could cause problems for the future.

Colin Girling, of the Suffolk branch of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: “Lots of flats are being built but they're often too expensive and people just don't want them.

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“The reason behind them is the builders have to maximise the profit of the land, so, instead of building one unit, they will build three or four storeys.

“The question is: are we building problems for the future by having so many flats. I don't think there's as great a demand for flats as builders would like to think.

“You could find the price of semi-detached houses in the right area go up even more because there are not enough to go round.”

Mr Girling said the average price of a semi-detached house has jumped from about £50,000 in 1996 to today's level of around £150,000.

He said: “Prices have gone up in the past ten years and so have wages but I'm not sure we're any better off.

“Nowadays, most first time buyers can't afford to buy a three-bed semi-detached house because they are beyond their reach.”

News of the rocketing prices will be welcomed by homeowners but increases the difficulties faced by first-time buyers in taking their first step on the property ladder.

Louise Wilby, of Suffolk ACRE, a rural campaign group, said: “The prices mean people who would've been able to get on the housing ladder a few years ago now cannot, especially with incomes as they are in Suffolk.

“The rise in prices is stopping communities keeping together because a lot of young people are having to move into towns. It has the double effect that the older people aren't able to benefit from having the younger people around to help them.”

Jonathan Bysh, principal of Jonathan Bysh estate agents in Colchester, said: “The only way people have really made money from the increases is if they come out of the market, but of course rents have increased a lot over the same time.

“For first time buyers there is still good value property - you have to be spending £100,000 to get onto the market and that would be a one-bedroom flat or corner house.

“If anything it has probably improved slightly for first time buyers because buy-to-let investors who were driving the market have cooled off a bit and that should have left the door more open for the first time buyers.”

David Williams, a spokesman for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Essex, said the need for more housing to calm prices was putting pressure on green belt land.

He said: “Our attitude is that we do need more homes but it is about where they are and how much they cost - that is the crucial point that has to be discussed.

“The other thing that we are concerned about is that if we are going to have as many as 500,000 new homes across the East of England, are they really all going to go on brown field sites?

“Yes, we do need more homes but they need to be in the right areas otherwise the countryside does get spoiled because more and more green-built land does get used up with creeping urbanisation - the Government is pushing and pushing for extra homes but you have to think it through very carefully.”

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