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News: Scotland and Northern Ireland dominate hotspots

Towns in Scotland and Northern Ireland - four each - dominate the ten towns that have seen the biggest house price rises during the last 12 months. The remaining two towns in the top 10 are in northern England.

Antrim in Northern Ireland and Lochgelly in Scotland are the UK's top property hotspots with both recording a 36% rise in prices over the past year. Average prices in Antrim are up from £108,318 in 2005 Quarter 2 to £147,761 in 2006 Quarter 2. Average prices in Lochgelly in Fife are up from £68,915 to £93,731.

Top 10 UK hotspots

Town

County

2005 Q2* average price

2006 Q2* average price

% change

Antrim

County Antrim

108,318

147,761

36%

Lochgelly

Fife

68,915

93,731

36%

Dalkeith

Midlothian

142,297

192,678

35%

Peterhead

Aberdeenshire

86,059

113,242

32%

Londonderry

County Londonderry

102,914

134,135

30%

Newry

County Down

124,348

160,840

29%

Nelson

Lancashire

76,692

99,117

29%

Cleckheaton

West Yorkshire

125,800

161,715

29%

Lanark

Lanarkshire

120,842

154,669

28%

Lisburn

County Antrim

126,059

160,002

27%

*12 months to June
Source: Halifax house price index

House prices increased in all regions during the 2006 Q2 with the exception of Wales, with the biggest rises in Scotland (5.7%), South West (3.8%) and East Anglia (3.5%).

The smallest increases were in North West (0.2%) and North (0.9%). Wales showed a slight fall (-0.8%), reflecting the increasing affordability difficulties for buyers as a result of the very rapid rise in house prices over the past few years. The modest drop in Wales, however, should be seen in the context of an increase of 121% in the past five years.

Southern England Greater London, South East, South West and East Anglia - accounted for around 40% of the overall rise in UK house prices in the first two quarters of the year. This is significantly higher than in 2005 when rising house prices in the south accounted for less than 25% of the increase in UK house prices.

Only 5 towns now have an average price below £100,000

There has been a pronounced decline in the number of towns where the average price is below £100,000 in the past few years. As expected, there are now only a handful of towns with an average price under £100,000 - 5 out of the 418 surveyed - below this benchmark compared with 14 one year ago and 130 in 2003.

Two Fife towns Kelty (£92,140) and Lochgelly (£93,731) have the lowest average prices in the UK. Nelson in the North West (£99,117) and Peterlee in the North East (£97,174) have the lowest average prices in England. Greenock in Scotland (£97,304) is the fifth town in the UK to have an average price below £100,000.

Commenting on the housing market in the UK, Martin Ellis, Chief Economist, said: "Towns in Scotland and Northern Ireland have seen the strongest house price rises in the UK over the past year, largely reflecting the more favourable housing affordability position in these two countries compared to the rest of the UK. Indeed, all ten towns delivering the strongest price rises over the past year have average house prices below the national average."

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