Woking was UK’s top house price performer in 2011

Strong property price rises in London and the South East

Woking in Surrey recorded the biggest rise in house prices among major UK towns and cities in 2011, according to new research by the Halifax.

Based on the Halifax’s own house price data, the average selling price in Woking, a commuter town within easy reach of central London by rail, was 16% higher than in the previous year. Prices increased from £257,590 in 2010 to £299,654 in 2011.

Falkirk in Scotland experienced the second biggest rise in house prices with a 12% gain. Like Woking, Falkirk is within easy commuting distance of major commercial centres, lying almost equidistant between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The town also has relatively low average property prices, making it more affordable than many other areas close to Scotland’s two largest cities.

Towns in London and the South East accounted for nine of the 20 towns recording the strongest price rises in 2011. Overall, 28% of the towns surveyed saw some increase in prices over the year.

The majority of worst performers were outside southern England. Kettering in Northamptonshire and Dunfermline in Scotland experienced the largest falls in average selling prices in 2011, both recording declines of 15%.

Nine of the ten towns that saw the biggest declines in property values are outside southern England, reflecting the generally weaker performance of the housing market outside the south.

Scotland recorded a very mixed performance with two towns in the top ten, Falkirk and Inverness, and two in the bottom ten, Dunfermline and Ayr.

‘Whilst house prices nationally have been largely unchanged in recent months, there have been significant differences in performance in towns across the country. The two towns recording the biggest rises are both within easy commuting distance of major commercial centres,’ said Martin Ellis, housing economist at the Halifax.

‘In contrast, the majority of towns that have fared worst in house price terms are outside southern England where economic conditions have tended to be less favourable,’ he added.

He also pointed out that uncertainty around the economy is unusually high.

‘This makes it especially difficult to predict the course of house prices over the next 12 months. Overall, we expect broad stability in house prices nationally during 2012,’ explained Ellis.

‘Nonetheless, we expect some variation in house price movements across the country. Prices are likely to be strongest in London and the South East as these regions perform better economically. House prices outside southern England are expected to be constrained by these areas’ generally weaker economic performance and their greater dependence on public sector employment,’ he added.

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