Tuesday, 10 April 2012 8:05 AM
The number of towns where home sales increased fell to its lowest level since the height of the financial crisis last year, according to new research by Lloyds TSB.
The bank said only 202 (40 per cent) of 500 towns it tracks in England and Wales were property hotspots – places that recorded a rise in sales in 2011. That was less than half the proportion (82 per cent) recorded in 2010.
The total number of home sales in England and Wales fell four per cent from 654,481 in 2010 to 630,389 in 2011.
Six out of ten towns in the north saw a rise in sales in 2011 against four out of ten in the south. This was a reversal of the pattern seen in 2010.
Bilston near Wolverhampton and Rugeley in Staffordshire were the towns seeing the biggest increase in sales (31 per cent) followed by Bootle on Merseyside in third with 21 per cent. Thetford in Norfolk (18 per cent) was the only non-northern town to make the top 10.
In contrast, eight of the ten towns with the biggest falls in sales are in the south. Tower Hamlets in London saw a 22 per cent fall, followed by Potters Bar in Hertfordshire (20 per cent) and Penzance in Cornwall (19 per cent).
However, there was little relationship between sales hotspots and price hotspots. The ten towns with the biggest fall in property sales saw prices rise by an average of 0.2 per cent while the ten with the biggest rise in sales saw an average 4.5 per cent fall.
Suren Thiru, Lloyds TSB housing economist, said: "The overall level of housing market activity across England and Wales has weakened over the past year, reflecting the concerns over the outlook for the UK economy.
"Additionally, consumers are experiencing difficulties in raising the necessary deposit, which is preventing many potential home buyers from entering the market.
"Whilst a number of towns in the north have seen a significant rise in home sales, these increases have been from a historically low base. Generally, property prices in the north continue to be weaker than in the south."