By Maximilian Clarke

A 2.8% rise in average house prices over September has pushed mean asking prices in the south to £336,700- more than double the average price in the North of England.

“Wider access to mortgages and rising asking prices are early signs of increasing demand, giving home owners some grounds for hope of a market recovery,” said Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove. “However, the reality is that there is further evidence of the two-tier twist which is dogging the return to more widespread liquidity in the housing market. While those in the affluent south may have cause to celebrate their prices being well up on this time last year, prices in the north continue to go backwards, leaving the widest price gap ever. For the average asking price of a property in the south you could now buy two average properties in the north and still have enough change left to buy new carpets and curtains.”

While there was a 2.8% national average increase in new sellers’ asking prices compared to last month, the driver of the rise was the 4.7% uplift in the southern regions (London, South East, South West and East Anglia). The northern regions (Wales, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire & Humberside, North West and North) actually recorded a 0.7% month-on-month fall. The south’s ability to perform better despite the continuing global financial crisis and resultant credit squeeze is further highlighted by property coming to the market at all-time price highs in both the London and South East regions. London’s £450,210 is 2.6% higher than the previous record set in June this year, while the £317,055 seen in the South East is 0.2% up on the previous high in May 2008.

Shipside comments: “Existing home-owners in the highest priced regions are seeing the value of their bricks and mortar increase even further, though it is at the expense of buyers who are faced with the highest ever asking prices. Those trading up will benefit from already being on the housing ladder, though the gap to trade up to the next rung is a bigger financial leap when prices rise like this and desirable homes are in short supply. Those who are not property owners, such as first-time buyers or those taking an ownership break in the rented sector, will either have to spend more or compromise on what they can afford”.

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