Positive signs as house prices rise

HOUSE prices in Suffolk are on the rise as new figures reveal the market is showing the vital signs of recovery.

After the turbulent instability which blighted the housing market as the recession took hold, the cautious message from estate agents across the county was one of good news.

Average house prices jumped nearly 10% in Suffolk in 2009, with some areas seeing rises of as much as 15%.

The average price of a house in the county is now �188,353, a rise of 9% from �173,597 in the first quarter of last year, according to Land Registry figures.

Estate agents said the figures were reflective of their experiences over the last year, as they hinted at a shortage of housing to meet the demands of buyers in Suffolk.

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Alan Williams, managing partner at Fenn Wright estate agents, said they have seen improvements since January 2009.

He said the most important element of the recovery was the return of confidence in the market.

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“At the start of 2009 most people had confidence in the long term stability of the market, shown by people’s intention to buy,” he said. “Prior to that people were looking more at renting.

“At that point prices had fallen substantially and there was beginning to be a collective market view prices would fall no further. From that point onwards demand improved but more importantly confidence improved.”

He said he does not subscribe to predictions of a double dip bringing more misery to home owners.

“Recovery has been quite steady and we think it is sustainable at the moment. There are plenty of people who said prices would continue to fall throughout 2009 that have been proved wrong.”

He said over the last few years developers had faced problems gaining the financial backing for new homes and so there was currently a shortage of new homes.

“Since the downturn the supply of new homes has been running dry, there have been a lot more transactions in the second hand market, but there is not enough supply. I don’t think we are heading for the boom and bust situation again, we don’t want to see prices escalating out of control.”

Price tags in every district saw a boost in prices across 2009. In Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury prices rose by 16% and 15% respectively.

James Neal, of Neal Sons and Fletcher in Woodbrige, said the market has “struggled from off its knees” in the last year.

He agreed with Mr Williams saying: “We are experiencing an increase in demand for property, no doubt exacerbated by the lower level of supply.”

He added: “What we would like to see is a gentle and sustained pick up, where prices do not fall flat on their face again nor roar away. These are positive signs but we must not get carried away.”

<Panel - Average House Prices>

District Quarter 1 2009 Quarter 4 2009

Babergh 194,641 212,731

Forest Heath 145,803 169,390

Ipswich 130,404 138,622

Mid Suffolk 194,718 198,905

St Edmundsbury 176,294 203,231

Suffolk Coastal 217,757 230,787

Waveney 155,802 164,806

Suffolk 173,597 188,353

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