ROTHERHAM has been ranked in the top ten towns where house prices have not recovered from the financial crash — but estate agents insist there are reasons to be cheerful.
A study by online estate agent HouseSimple found that the average property price in the borough was 3.8 per cent down on ten years ago, while prices in some parts of the country have soared by almost 70 per cent.
Rotherham’s average house or flat now costs £128,544 — more than £5,000 down from £133,572 in 2007.
Blackpool and Sunderland are bottom of the pile, with 15.3 per cent and 13.3 per cent lower prices than a decade ago respectively, while nine of the top ten slump locations are in the north.
Clear evidence of a north-south divide on property can be seen by the ten biggest boomers, with all of them in the south or East Anglia, the most northern being Cambridge and Milton Keynes.
Top of the lot is London, where the average house price shot up from £286,000 to £482,000 over ten years, while Cambridge’s 64.5 per cent increase amounts to more than £170,000 and the average home is £447,839.
HouseSimple’s research, carried out using Land Registry data for 60 towns and cities, revealed that in more than a quarter (28 per cent) of locations, average property prices today are still below 2007 values.
Ten biggest winners (per cent rise in brackets):
1 London (68.5)
2 Cambridge (64.5)
3 Stevenage (58.5)
4 Slough (55.9)
5 Oxford (54.7)
6 Luton (47.5)
7 Reading (46.3)
8 Southend (45.9)
9 Winchester (45.5)
10 Brighton (45.3)
Ten biggest losers (per cent fall in brackets)
1 Blackpool (15.3)
2 Sunderland (13.3)
3 Middlesbrough (9.7)
4 Preston (8.1)
5 Stockton-on-Tees (5.7)
6 Gateshead (3.8)
7 Rotherham (3.8)
8 Newport (3.7)
9 Bolton (3.6)
10 Newcastle-upon-Tyne (3.6)
Alex Gosling, the estate agents’ chief executive, said: “Many of these homeowners will have been in negative equity for a decade.
“It must be galling for anyone who bought a property ten years ago, at the top of the market, and are sitting in a home that is still worth less today than it was when they bought it pre-2008.”
Estate agent Richard Badger, of Wickersley-based ELR, painted a more positive overall picture, saying prices were up on 2007 and steadily rising but admitting the value of some types of homes was lagging behind.
“Prices are up and down all year but in the past 12 months they have gone up a bit,” he said.
“There are some areas, however, that are not selling.
“First-time buyers are getting together a larger deposit and buying semis rather than terraces so they are skipping that first step in the ladder.”
Chris Holmes, managing director of rental agents Bricknells, said data from property website Right Move suggested the average property price in Rotherham was currently £132,700 — down 1.7 per cent from the 2007 figure of £135,400.
Their lowest levels during the slump were in March 2012, when the average asking price was just £112,100, since when they have risen by almost a fifth.
But there was some room for optimism, Mr Holmes said, as Land Registry data suggested property values in Rotherham and surrounding areas were 1.58 per cent up on a year ago and 9.12 per cent higher than January 2015, which he put down to a shortage of properties for sale.
He added that auncertainty around the Brexit process was encouraging people to stay put and improve their current accommodation rather than seriously consider moving.
“However even with this short term decrease in the number of properties for sale in Rotherham, I believe property prices will remain stable and strong in the medium to long-term,” Mr Holmes said, noting that property firm Savills was predicting a ten per cent rise across the region by 2021.
He said Rotherham’s long-term fortunes were tied to the whether the borough council’s plans to improve the town centre came off.
“Centres of employment, university towns with high student demand, good connectivity and the positive perception of a place all increases the demand,” he said.
“That’s why I feel it is important that Rotherham moves forward with its plans to develop and improve the town centre as a vibrant and attractive hub, making investment attractive and adding to the general prosperity of its population.”