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Welsh good times leave FTBs behind

House prices are racing ahead in Wales, rising by 36% over the past 12 months compared with 19.1% across the UK as a whole. But this heating up of the market is leading to fears that if there is a housing market crash, Wales will be hit hard.

The country escaped serious fallout from the last crash because its prices never reached the heights of those in London and the South-East, but it might not be so lucky this time round.

The starting point of the Welsh boom was Cardiff, which has benefited from an injection of capital and from being home to the futuristic Millennium Stadium. But it is now being overtaken by Swansea. Are people clamouring to become neighbours of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas who have built a retreat just down the road in Mumbles?

In Swansea it has got to the stage where unless borrowers already have a mortgage in place lenders turn them away, as the next person will snap the property up.

But, as in London, buy-to-let is getting precarious in Cardiff, actually showing signs of a slowdown with supply outstripping demand.

As always it is the poor first-time buyers who are suffering most from the boom in Wales – the average wage in the county is only £21,398 while the average house price is £115,287.

And their plight is not helped by developers who are keen on flogging penthouse waterfront apartments rather than building affordable housing.

And the politicians at the Welsh Assembly are refusing do much to help, having ignored calls from local authorities to introduce planning rules to benefit local people.

But it is not all doom and gloom for wannabe property owners, with Halifax citing 10 towns that are still affordable: Caernarfron, Aberdare, Ebbw Vale, Holyhead, Llanelli, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath, Pontypool, Porth and Port Talbot.

Next week we turn our sights on Scotland to see if it&#39s still grim up North or if the housing boom has gripped that country too.

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