Norwich name property boom hotspot

LORNA MARSH Norwich was yesterday named Britain's property boom hotspot with the highest price rises over the past year as it was revealed values in Norfolk have more than tripled over a decade.

LORNA MARSH

Norwich was yesterday named Britain's property-boom hotspot with the highest price rises over the past year as it was revealed values in Norfolk have more than tripled over a decade.

The average prices in Norwich have soared to more than £200,000 for the first time, with one house fetching £250,000 more than its guide figure.

The property on Lime Tree Road was on the market for £850,000 but intense buying competition pushed it up to well over £1m.


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Meanwhile, estate agents predicted values in the city and county will continue spiralling as statistics from Nationwide Building Society pinpointed an 18pc increase in the city over the last year - the biggest in Britain and only second to Belfast in the UK.

It means the average house price in the city is now £200,060. In Norfolk as a whole it has reached £183,196 - three times that of 10 years ago - while the Suffolk average is £187,779 and in Cambridgeshire it is £201,760. The national figure is £175,554, up 9.5pc on last year compared to Norfolk's 11pc.

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Christopher Hall, vice-chairman of the Norfolk branch of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and immediate past-president of the association, said the soaring figures for the region did not come as a surprise.

"I have been predicting a 10pc annual rise for some time. Over the past five years I said that there would be a 100pc increase over the following 10 to 15 years and it looks like we are heading that way.

"The increase will slow down but there will still be one," said Mr Hall.

"It doesn't surprise me that Norwich is at the top end of the list. A few years ago we were playing catch-up with the rest of the country but development in the city has had a snowballing effect and now you see a different clientele which has become more white-collar worker. Where we had our shoe and chocolate factories we now have our Virgins and finance centres. Norwich has become a vibrant place to live."

But Mr Hall said that the buy-to-let market had pushed up prices and elbowed many first-time buyers out of the market.

"Seven or eight years ago, the buy- to-let sector was almost non-existent, now even the amateurs are becoming professionals just in the number of properties they run," he said.

However, Antony Bromley-Martin, a partner at Strutt and Parker and a member of the NAEA, said the survey did not provide a detailed comprehensive picture of the housing market in the region.

And Louis de Soissons, a director of Savills estate agents, said huge increases at the top end of the market had skewed the statistics.

He sounded a note of optimism for first-time buyers however, saying they were "set to return".

"The buy-to-let market is becoming sated and we all need those coming in at the bottom end for a healthy housing market at all levels," he said.

London remains the most- expensive part of the UK to buy property, with typical house prices reaching £280,995 in the quarter, up 14.3pc annually.

The least-expensive region is the North, where a quarter-on-quarter fall of 0.4pc meant average prices fell back slightly to £129,378.

Two Norfolk estate agents have won top awards in the 2007 Estate Agent of the Year Awards. Wisbech-based William H Brown has won a gold award while Watsons Residential in North Walsham scooped silver.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has produced a guide for buyers overwhelmed by their task in time for the Easter house hunt. Find it online at www.rics.org/usefulguides

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