Despite the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announcing earlier this week that house prices in the UK have dropped £6,000 in 12 months (faster than they have in more than 12 years), there is a surprisingly large number of areas that have bucked the trend, giving hope that the 2024 housing market may be better than some of those gloomy predictions.
Kim Kinnaird, director of Halifax Mortgages, says national economic woes have been outweighed by local factors in many places. ‘House prices can be swayed by the number of homes for sale, the local jobs market and services like education and transport,’ she says.
And Nathan Emerson, chief executive of estate agents’ group Propertymark, says: ‘It’s inevitable the market becomes more fragmented than usual with some geographical areas performing better than others. Some parts of the UK have maintained stability with house prices, while some homeowners have actually seen their homes increase in value.’
So, here are some of the big winners over the past year, despite economic headwinds.
Some of the property hotspots in the UK the past year include Powys in Wales, Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, Falmouth in Cornwall and Ealing in west London
This port on the river Fal is the largest in Cornwall and has a rich history which began in 1613 when Falmouth was founded by Sir John Killigrew. Nearby is also Pendennis Castle which was built by Henry VIII in 1540 and is a major tourist attraction.
There’s been a marginal increase in house prices here, according to property consultancy Dataloft. At the end of 2022, a typical home in the town sold for £350,184, but a year later it was £356,561. This pretty, busy port hosts two university campuses so has a younger and more affluent population than most of Cornwall, producing a far wider range of restaurants, clubs and shops than usually found in the far South West.
The beautiful port on the river Fal in Cornwall has a rich history dating back to 1613
It hosts two university campuses so has a younger and more affluent population than most of Cornwall, producing a far wider range of restaurants, clubs and shops than usually found in the far South West
There is a farmers market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday as well as year-round live music and theatre in the Princess Pavilion, which is set in the middle of Gyllyngdune Gardens.
The actor Steve McFadden — who plays EastEnders hardman Phil Mitchell — has a second home in the town. It’s not far from the house formerly owned by Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson, who quit the Cornish port in 2020 when his career relaunched. He now hosts a daily show on Virgin Radio UK.
EALING, WEST LONDON
Halifax says the typical home here was valued at £494,100 a year ago, but now it’s up to £531,127 — a healthy 7.5 per cent rise. Much of the increase is down to the regeneration of the main shopping area and the arrival of Elizabeth Line, formerly known as Crossrail.
Now it takes a mere 12 minutes to get from Ealing Broadway to Paddington, and just 25 minutes to reach Tottenham Court Road in the heart of the capital.
A typical home in Ealing was valued at £494,100 a year ago, but now it’s up to £531,127
Ealing has its fair share of celebrity residents — Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker lives there with his ex-Blue Peter presenter wife, Konnie Huq. It’s also home to more village-style living than most of the capital, courtesy of a Saturday Farmers’ Market and The Avenue Vintage and Antiques Market which draws crowds from across London.
Crowds flock to 28-acre Walpole Park which is home to the Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery, a children’s playground, a cafe, serpentine lake, fishponds and landscaped gardens. The park also hosts an annual Jazz Festival and a Beer Festival.
Halifax says this has seen huge annual house price growth of 17.4 per cent. That’s taken the typical home from £216,307 to £253,958. Powys is the largest, but least densely populated county in Wales, much loved for its villages and market towns, and featuring a spectacular landscape of valleys and mountains including most of Brecon Beacons National Park.
The county covers a vast area and has the variety one might expect. In late spring each year, some of the industry’s biggest stars make the trip to Hay-on-Wye for the literary festival. The smallest town in Wales, Llanwrtyd Wells – with a population of just 850 people – is home to breweries, charming independent shops and hosts quirky events like bog snorkelling (exactly what it sounds like), all while being surrounded by the Cambrian Mountains.
A terraced row of quaint cottages sit alongside a canal near Brecon, in Powys
The Welsh county features a spectacular landscape of valleys and mountains
Welsh singer Charlotte Church spent 18 months renovating the Powys pile Rhydoldog House — the former home of designer Laura Ashley — into a health retreat called The Dreaming. ‘It’s for healing through beauty and wonder. It’s for everyone: affordable and inclusive, where anyone can learn to heal and even become the healer that their community needs,’ says the star.
Ex-Neighbours star Mark Little is another resident, in a farmhouse near Lake Vyrnwy and enjoys turning out for a local cricket team.
Prices in Exeter continued to rise in 2023, with a typical home costing £325,878, according to online agency Purplebricks. The city has garnered a higher profile reputation, thanks to its university joining the elite Russell Group and the premiership Exeter Chiefs rugby union club operating from a purpose-built ground with its own hotel.
There’s been a high volume of new housing built around the city, but the most popular suburb is one of its oldest. Topsham on the River Exe is an eclectic mix of 18th-century Dutch-gabled houses, renovated workers’ cottages and waterside villas.
Sitting on the River Exe, the picturesque city boasts a Russell Group university as well as the Exeter Chiefs rugby union club
The spectacular 15th-century Gothic cathedral is the centrepiece of this city and hosts events such as art exhibitions, talks and family-friendly workshops
Newly knighted Brexiteer pub king Sir Tim Martin lives here, while celebrity chef Michael Caines runs the nearby Michelin starred Lympstone Manor restaurant, hotel and vineyard.
The spectacular 15th century Gothic cathedral is the centrepiece of this city and hosts events beyond the usual services from art exhibitions, to talks and family friendly workshops. But there’s plenty more attractions on offer from the unique Underground Passages to the Roman Wall, beautiful quayside and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum dedicated to the city’s 2000-year history.
It’s famous as the birthplace of former Dr Who Jodie Whittaker and Labour ex-Prime Minister Harold Wilson, but now this Yorkshire market town — in the foothills of the Pennines — is in the news because typical house prices are up from £253,301 to £275,438, according to Halifax.
Home to approximately 162,000 people, the town has a strong sporting pedigree seen in its football club and the rugby league team the Huddersfield Giants. For those more culturally inclined, the Huddersfield central market is one of the largest in the UK, with over 100 stalls and there is a burgeoning food and drink scene.
The impressive Concert Hall sits in the heard of Huddersfield, where there is a burgeoning food and drink scene
The Lockwood railway viaduct, built in 1846, can be seen from nearby Beaumont Park
Local agents say the 8.7 per cent rise is down to the working-from-home trend, with many who would have moved to the likes of Manchester or Birmingham now wanting larger properties in the town with space for home offices. There are also plenty of green spaces including Greenhead and Beaumont Park.
They say the same goes for Bradford, another West Yorkshire town, where prices have gone up 8.5 per cent. Folk in Yorkshire like to buck the trend – and when it comes to property prices in some parts of the county they are doing just that.