New research from Halifax has revealed that property prices per square metre have grown by 432% in Greater London against a national average increase of 251% over the past 20 years.
While London, as expected, dominates the list of most expensive property locations on a per square metre basis, there are five areas outside of southern England which command a higher property price per square metre than the national average of £2,216 – they are Edinburgh, Harrogate, Altrincham, Solihull and Leamington Spa.
Not surprisingly, there has been a widening gap between property prices per square metre in southern England and the rest of Britain over the past two decades.
Prices in London and the South East have risen much higher than elsewhere in recent years, with values in the capital rising by nearly double that of the rest of the country since 2011.
This further reflects London’s safe haven status among high-end and overseas investors, plus the burgeoning popularity of its private rented sector (landlords know, if they invest in London, that they will be able to occupy their properties with the minimum of fuss because demand is so high).
Britain’s most expensive neighbourhood will also surprise no-one. The borough of Kensington and Chelsea, with an average price of £11,321 per square metre, is the country’s most affluent area.
Westminster (£10,552) is the only other location in the UK with an average price per square metre that surpasses £10,000.
Trendy Camden is in third place, with an average price of £9,012 per square metre.
In total, 17 locations – all in Greater London – have an average price of over £5,000 per square metre. The borough of Merton, in South West London, is a new arrival to this group since last year.
Outside of London and the South East, the West Midlands dominates when it comes to the most expensive towns per square metre.
As well as Solihull and Leamington Spa, Sutton Coldfield (£2,113), Bromsgrove (£1,970) and Stourbridge (£1,943) – while below the national average – all make the top 10 most expensive towns outside southern England.
By contrast, the least expensive area in the UK was Airdrie in Scotland, with an average price at £1,019 per square metre, less than a tenth of the average price in Kensington and Chelsea.
While Halifax’s research found that nowhere in Britain had an average price below £1,000 per square metre, the more affordable towns were mostly to be found outside England.
Four were in Scotland, including Airdrie, Kilmarnock and Lanark, while two were in Wales: Llanelli (£1,028) and Neath (£1,065).
In England, meanwhile, the four towns with the lowest prices per square metre were in the North East and North West: namely Scunthorpe (£1,036), Accrington (£1,055), Hartlepool (£1,062) and Wallasey (£1,067).
Worries about a North/South property divide are very much backed up by these findings, with a consistent gap between southern England – propelled by London – and the rest of the UK over the last 20 or so years.
This is something that has become particularly pronounced in the last five years. Quite how – and when – the gap will start to narrow is unclear. What seems more likely is the gap will grow even bigger over the coming years.
The government, which has made plenty of noise about devolving extra powers to the northern regions of England as part of Osborne’s promised Northern Powerhouse drive, hope that more houses being built – and a push to create more affordable housing – will at least help to bridge that gap slightly, but you could be forgiven for being a bit sceptical about that goal.
For sellers in London, the South East and, to a lesser extent, the West Midlands, these findings will give plenty to cheer.
Certainly, if the property is targeted right and marketed properly, getting a fair and reasonable price for a home should be very achievable.