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Greenwich leads market with house prices up by quarter in 2014


Average price rose to £328,044 in Greenwich, while Crawley was only town outside London to make top 10 risers

Greenwich Church Street in Greenwich. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA

The London borough of Greenwich tops a list of towns and cities recording the largest increase in house prices in 2014, according to the UK’s largest mortgage lender.

The average house price in the royal borough, which sweeps from Woolwich by the river Thames down to New Eltham in the south and is famed for its naval history and the Greenwich meridian line, rose from £263,183 to £328,044 in the 12 months to November, according to figures from Halifax. That increase, of 24.6%, was almost three times the 8.5% rise recorded across the UK as a whole.

In a year when the housing market in London grew increasingly disconnected from the rest of the country, it is perhaps no surprise that the list of big movers – compiled by Halifax using data for mortgages it has approved during the year – is dominated by the capital.

Ealing in west London recorded the second-biggest rise, with prices up by 24.5% to an average of £365,859, and prices were up by more than a fifth in five other boroughs including Tower Hamlets in the east and Sutton in the south. Across London as a whole, Halifax said prices had gone up by 13%, or £43,935, to an average of £381,483. This was despite estate agents reporting a slowdown in many areas since the summer, with new mortgage lending rules introduced in April and the increasing strain on affordability pulling up what had seemed to be a runaway housing market.

The only town in the top 10 outside London was Crawley in Sussex, where Halifax said prices had risen by 22.4%. The town lies between London and Brighton and has good commuter links to the capital, but a lower average house price at £267,925.

Guy Epps, manager of the Greenwich branch of estate agency Winkworth, said the area was attractive to families looking for green space and for City workers commuting to nearby Canary Wharf. He said he had seen huge demand from buyers in the first part of the year.

“I’ve been in the game for 25 years and the spring was the busiest five months I can remember,” Epps said. “We had one property in east Greenwich which had nearly 60 viewings over two days. About 50% of the properties that were on the market were going to multiple offers then to best and final offers.”


Epps said the market started to slow down in early summer, and that after sharp rises in the early months there were some drops. “In east Greenwich there were homes that had been going for £500,000 at the start of the year that four months later were selling for £600,000; now they’re selling for around £550,000.”

Although prices have dipped as more stock has come on to the housing market to meet demand, he said that November had been the busiest month so far for sales, and he expected activity to pick up again after Christmas. “We should be looking at price rises of about 10% next year,” he suggested.

Beyond the south-east of England, Sheffield saw the biggest increase, with prices rising by 13.7% to an average of £148,372. Halifax said the South Yorkshire city has seen a significant increase in employment, particularly in managerial, professional and technical skilled occupations, which had boosted demand for property in the city.

But the picture in the north of England has been decidedly mixed, with Halifax reporting falls in a number of towns and cities.

Bury in Greater Manchester recorded the biggest drop, with average prices down by 4.8%, or £7,000, to £140,376, followed by Keighley in West Yorkshire where prices dropped by 4.4% to an average of £131,403.

Four of the 10 biggest fallers were in the north-west, where official figures from the Office for National Statistics show the housing market has not yet recovered from the crash that followed the financial crisis.

Jonathan Rudd, an area sales manager for Your Move, whose patch includes Bury, said that the fall in average prices reflected increased activity by first-time buyers, who tended to purchase cheaper homes than those further up the ladder. He said the return of 95% mortgages had fired up this part of the market during the year, and sales were still going through two days before Christmas.

“Bury is a fantastic town – there are really good transport links and some fantastic schools,” he said. “You could pick up a two-bed terraced property in the BL8 postcode, which is the north side of Bury and very popular with first-time buyers, for in the region of £100,000 to £120,000.”

Rudd said that further up the market there had been a £250,000 ceiling on house prices as a result of the old stamp duty thresholds. The end of this cap, together with the return of first-time buyers, looked set to drive up the market and prices in 2015, he said.

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