Top 10 property hotspots all outside the South, says Halifax index

The UK&#39s top 10 property hotspots over the last year are all outside the South, the latest Halifax house price index reveals.

Hartlepool has recorded the biggest rise in prices at 59%, followed by Darlington with an increase of 58%, Swansea at 55% and Blackburn at 51%. The North-East dominates the top 10 with Stockton-on-Tees and South Shields also amongst the 10 towns recording the highest price rises.

The index also shows that the average house price in London is now just over twice as expensive as its equivalent in the North. The ratio between prices in London and the North stood at 2.11 in 2004 in the first quarter – marking the narrowest gap in prices between London and the North in percentage terms since early 1999 and close to the average over the past 20 years of 2.08.

House prices continue to rise most rapidly in northern England and Wales. The biggest price increases over the last year have been in the North at36%, Wales at 36%, the North-West at 30% and Yorkshire and the Humber at 28%.

Martin Ellis, chief economist at Halifax, says: “We expect the gap between the North and South to narrow further during the remainder of 2004, although house price inflation in many areas outside the south is likely to slow.”