Urban house buyers are pushing up the average cost of a home in the North East, new figures show.
In December property prices in the region were up 3% on the same period a year before – with estate agents claiming the rise is being fuelled by sales in built up areas.
“Urban areas have been boosted by the strengthening economic recovery and growing jobs numbers. And this boost is driving up demand and pricing for properties in towns and cities,” said Lawrence Hall of PrimeLocation.com.
“We’re seeing similar, albeit slightly slower, growth in property prices in rural areas thanks to increased demand as buyers seek out more affordable options.
“However, anyone looking for a country retreat at a good price might be wise to act now before prices rise even further.”
Nationally, according to the Office for National Statistics, UK house prices increased by 5.5% in December 2013 compared with a year earlier, up from 5.4% in November 2013, meaning the average property price in Britain has broken through the £250,000 mark.
House prices grew by 5.7% in England, 4.8% in Wales, 0.5% in Scotland and 4.8% in Northern Ireland, though the former was again largely down to a 12.3% increase in London.
The North East’s 3% rise is ahead of the South West (2.5%), East Midlands (1.9%) , Yorkshire and Humber (1.8%) and Scotland (0.5%), but it has been claimed that the region’s buoyant figures are down to a 4.1% upturn in the asking prices for properties in towns and cities.
According to figures from PrimeLocation.com the average asking price for an urban house or flat is now £189,320, compared to £258,900 - up 2.9% - for a home in a more rural area.
Paul Neary, an area sales manager for Your Move in the North East, said that was not surprising as more first time buyers are looking to take their first step on to the property ladder, and those “rungs” were most often in towns and cities.
“The rise may have something to do with the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, which is bringing more first time buyers into the market,” he said.
“That’s not to say they’re necessarily going down that route – they may look at it and other options and perhaps realise they can buy without it - but more people are looking round properties and looking to buy a house now.
“And that in turn has a knock on effect up the chain.
“We’re definitely seeing an upturn in the market and there’s definitely a more positive vibe when speaking to people.
“Going back only a year and a half it was all doom and gloom and now public perception is on the up and that’s half the battle.”
However, Mr Neary said it may be too soon to predict further growth.
“We had a very busy January in terms of the number of people seeking valuations,” he said.
“But it’s very difficult to say ‘yes, we expect things to keep improving.’
“I think this year the market will remain very competitive and price sensitive.
“It’s too soon to say whether the market will continue to go up, but I think we will see a gradual rise – and that is positive because it means stability.”