Plymouth property price slump in city one of largest in the country
PLYMOUTH has suffered one of the largest falls in house prices in the country, a new report says.
The House Price Index for the last three months of 2012, reveals Plymouth's average house price has fallen by seven per cent compared to the last quarter of 2011.
But the figures may be the result of a slow summer, when deals were hit by the Queen's Jubilee and the Olympics, and there are signs the year ended more strongly and there is more optimism for 2013.
Nevertheless, the report, compiled by the Nationwide building society, says the average house price in Plymouth is now £167,450, with the decline putting it fifth worst in the UK, with only Liverpool, and Belfast, both suffering an eight per cent dip, and Manchester and Bradford, down nine per cent, worse off.
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The best performing location is Cambridge, which has seen a six per cent hike to an average cost of £336,667 per house.
And Plymouth's status is at odds with the rest of the South West where prices, although mostly down, are still at a higher level, and in some areas, such as Bristol, have gone up.
Roger Punch, regional property spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said the figures are the result of a slow start to 2012 for the city's property market.
This led to vendors slashing prices to achieve a sale later in the year.
But he said the final quarter figures may be the result of deals done earlier in the year coming to fruition in the last three months of 2012, and said the city's property market ended more strongly.
"Certainly 2012 was a particularly difficult year in Plymouth," said Mr Punch, who runs the Plymouth office of Stags, in North Hill.
"Of the properties that came onto the market at the beginning of the year the vast proportion did not sell and consequently in the latter part of the year sellers decided to adjust their prices to find buyers.
"The consequence was the latter part of the year was more promising in terms of turnover, but many sellers had to bite the bullet in terms of pricing to achieve sales."
He added: "If you look at the Plymouth audience, apart from the waterfront, which is different, it's related to the way Plymouth's economy is going, and if employment is iffy people will not make the move."
But he said there was more optimism at the end of 2012 and going into 2013 and said: "Certainly the activity that has come through in December has been encouraging. There are glimmers of hope with more confidence towards the end of the year."
Mr Punch said an important factor affecting the house market is the availability of mortgages and he stressed: "Lenders must be encouraged to be as accommodating as possible to ensure first-time buyers come into the market place."
Nationally, Nationwide's study found evidence the north/south divide in England is widening, with the price of a typical home in the south now at a new high of about £95,000 more than in the north, representing a two per cent increase compared with the end of 2011.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said: "With the economic recovery expected to remain fairly weak, the housing market is likely to be characterised by low levels of activity again in 2013, with prices remaining flat or modestly lower over the course of the year."