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September 11, 2007

Head east for lower property prices

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by Kay Mitchell

Head east for lower property prices

Property prices in the West Country and the Cotswolds are rocketing so buyers are looking east to find their ideal country home. In the past, those looking for a quiet, simple country life have looked west to Devon and Cornwall.

The last 10 years has seen the average cost of a house in the south-west soar by 213%. Consequently, many are heading east.

The Office for National Statistics has shown that in the last year, the regions of England and Wales with the fastest-growing population were the East Midlands and the east of England. That covers an area stretching from the borders of London, in Hertfordshire and Essex, to the Norfolk Broads, through the villages of Rutland.

The increase was a modest 0.8% but, for the first time in 5 years, it was greater than the rise in the West Country. According to the Halifax, prices in Retford, Nottinghamshire, have leapt by 28% in the year to June. Prices in England and Wales rose by 12% during the same period.

Lower house prices may be one of the main reasons for travelling east but the estate agency, Knight Frank, said if you go to north Essex or Suffolk, for instance, you hit rural parts of the country that have good transport links to London but they remain much less frantic than those in the home counties, with a lot less overcrowding than the Thames Valley.

Knight Frank added that people are prepared to travel further to work these days. St Albans, Harpenden, and Bishop’s Stortford are all less than a 50-minute train ride from London. However, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and north Cambridgeshire are also attracting daily commuters.

Northamptonshire and Leicestershire on the north and eastern borders of the Cotswolds have been tipped for some time by agents as an area with potential for growth. Lane Fox, the estate agents which specialize in country properties, tips include Hulcote, Caldecote, Everdon and Eydon.

Lane Fox added that property in the villages around Market Harborough are available for about a quarter of the price you would pay in prime parts of Oxfordshire or Gloucestershire.
Former industrial towns in the central part of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are growing too. Prices in Ilkeston, close to both Nottingham and Derby, have increased by 21% in the last 12 months, but an average property is currently at only £140,000.

Finally, Derbyshire attracts commuters from Manchester and Sheffield, second-homeowners and retirees who are seeking an affordable house in the English countryside. It is also home to the scenic Peak District.

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