The impact of the downturn has been harsher in the north of England than in most other regions-property values are still significantly lower than their 2007 peak and the recovery is progressing at a slower pace. However, reports Sophie Chick of Savills, ‘there are signs that prices are bottoming out’.
Cities are generally outperforming the surrounding countryside and York in particular is thriving, according to Miss Chick. ‘House prices are now back above their peak by 3.5%.’ Edward Stoyle of Carter Jonas puts this down to the fact that ‘cathedral cities have transport links, history and plenty that makes them attractive- and usually they have jobs. In York, the unemployment figure is below average.’
It also helps that York is ‘quite condensed’ and this makes supply limited, keeping prices stable. By contrast, ‘when you go out into the villages, people have more choice’. However, both Mr Stoyle and his colleagues report that the country market has improved this year. ‘Something has changed. There’s more confidence and banks are a little freer with money. Values have been hovering at best, but there is definitely more interest.’
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Part of the Grade II*-listed house dates from the Middle Ages, with the rest mostly built in the mid 17th century.The house has kept intact its period atmosphere-indeed, it won a design award in 2004. The charming interiors, which feature exposed timbers, large fireplaces and 17th-century decorative plasterwork, enjoy magnificent views across the Kilnsey Lakes.
Further north, in Northumberland, ‘there have been superb sales and we’ve noticed that the market is getting stronger, enabling us to sell properties closer to the asking price,’ notes Duncan Young of Sanderson Young, who adds that the hottest spots are Whalton and the area west of Morpeth, Corbridge and the Tyne Valley, and the north Northumberland coastline. Over the county border in Cumbria, ‘Windermere, Keswick and Ullswater remain the hotspots,’ says Will Tod of Hayward Tod. ‘Property prices are much higher there than in other parts of the county.’
The value gap between South and North remains very wide, but this means you can get some really extraordinary properties for the price of a London flat. North-bound buyers can expect to spend between £500,000 and £1 million for a good town house in York. A five- to six-bedroom property near good private schools will cost more than £800,000, according to Mr Stoyle, and ‘a nice, period farmhouse with land’ in the country will start at £600,000.
In Cumbria, advises Mr Tod, a period property with some acreage will range between £500,000 and £750,000 for the rural area nearer to Carlisle, although it can rise to as much as £2 million or more for ‘a serious period house with lake frontage’. In Northumberland, a similar property costs from £575,000.
Couple these eminently reasonable values with the North’s breathtaking beauty-the hills and valleys of the Yorkshire Dales, Cumbria’s deep-blue lakes and Northumberland’s winding coastline-and the lure of the northern sirens becomes hard to resist.