Think property hotspots and you’ll probably instantly think of the capital and high London house prices. If not London maybe you’ll think of Manchester, the resurgent heart of the ‘northern powerhouse’ and new home to the BBC. Perhaps less obvious, with the greatest respect, are the East Midlands towns of Daventry, Alfreton and Sutton In Ashfield. Yet a recent study from Lloyds Bank put the trio in the top ten towns in terms of the highest jump in property sales from 2013 to 2014.
These were three of just four towns to enjoy growth in sales of 50% or higher in the study – the other being Pudsey in Yorkshire. Lloyds used Land Registry data for England and Wales, to compare the number of property sales in the first 10 months of last year with those in the first 10 months of 2013.
These unlikely hotspots show there is a strong recovery in sales in areas where prices are affordable and in areas with good links to the rest of the country, particularly London. In fact the top East Midlands trio all have close proximity to the M1.
The data also echoes a report from the Royal Bank of Scotland last summer which showed economic growth was strongest in the East Midlands – pointing to the fact that prosperity and property go hand in hand.
The full top ten for property sales increases is as follows…
Daventry, East Midlands, 56%
Alfreton, East Midlands, 53%
Pudsey, Yorkshire and the Humber, 51%
Sutton-in-Ashfield, East Midlands, 50%
Selby, Yorkshire and the Humber, 48%
Corby, East Midlands, 47%
Margate, South East, 46%
Slough, South East, 45%
Wickford, South East, 44%
Clacton-on-Sea, South East, 44%
The study also showed there were 12 towns where sales were higher in 2014 than in 2007 – the height of the market before the crash. These were Biggleswade, Wallingford, Didcot, Alton and Romsey in the South East, St Neots in East Anglia, Hinckley in the East Midlands, Evesham, Droitwich and Malvern in the West Midlands and Melksham and Newquay in Cornwall.
One key thing that jumps out from both lists is the absence of any towns – barring Pudsey – from the north of England.
Andy Hulme, Mortgages Director at Lloyds Bank, said: "The recovery in the housing market continued in 2014 with sales rising further in almost all areas of the country. Low interest rates, improvements in the UK economy and Government schemes, such as Help to Buy, all appear to have contributed to the rise in home sales. Despite these improvements, sales both nationally and regionally are still significantly below their pre-recession levels.
“There is a clear north versus south pattern to the housing market recovery with sales closer to their 2007 levels in the south. Indeed, a small number of towns recorded higher sales last year than seven years earlier, but sales remained much lower than 2007 levels in most areas."
In total there were 760,000 sales in January to October 2014, up 21% on the same period in 2013.
Experts predict that the north/south divide may well be less pronounced by the time of the next set of figures – with cities such as Liverpool and Sheffield due to show a recovery in sales. The towns in and around these cities could well benefit as a knock-on effect and become the next set of unlikely hotspots but for now it’s clear that the East Midlands and South East reigns supreme.