The latest RICS survey out today adds yet more evidence to suggest a widening north-south gap in the housing market.

Prices are now rising robustly in the equity-rich, high housing-demand south, while for most of Britain house prices remain on a downward slope. The exception to the north-south split is Scotland, which holds onto its position as the most resilient of housing markets during the current recession.

Across Britain as a whole house prices on balance are still falling, according to the survey, with the seasonally adjusted balance of surveyors seeing falling house prices against those seeing rising prices at -9%. This is the highest level since August 2007.

RICS housing market survey July 2009.gif

But as is clear from the graph, there is significant regional variation in the growth in house prices.

The regions, Scotland and Wales have been arranged in the graph by the strength of price rises as measured by the RICS survey. It is interesting to note visually in the graph the broad relationship between rising prices and increasing buyer interest.

In London the balance on prices is +29, suggesting reasonably strong and widespread house price growth. Just 9% of surveyors reported falling prices.

Compare this with the figures for the North region, which show a negative balance of 28% on prices with 34% of surveyors seeing falling prices and just 6% seeing prices rise. The pattern in Yorkshire & Humberside and Wales is worse.

The widely held view for the greater stability in the national house price figure is that there is a shortage of homes on the market at a time when more people are looking to buy. This is thought to be propping up prices.

However there are clearly different undercurrents within each region.

Two likely factors for the disparity in the performance of the regional markets are the level of equity and the risk of unemployment, or more precisely the risk of being made unemployed and not finding another job.

London and the South East are clearly significantly more equity-rich and the economy is more dynamic with regards to finding replacement jobs - not for everyone, but for many. London will also benefit from overseas buyers seeing bargains given the relatively weak pound.

Meanwhile, the South West benefits hugely from migration of the equity-rich from London.

The apparent success from the huge multi-billion pound efforts made to prop up the banking system will have provided significant succour to those in and around the capital, especially the equity rich.

Contrast this with the northern regions which are much more reliant on the more traditional industries and the public sector for employment. It is not unreasonable to expect a slower response in recovery.

The pattern does seem to be following that predicted by many experts I chatted to over the past 18 months or so, with London expected to have a far more dramatic fall and rise than other parts of Britain.

What will be of great interest is how this plays out politically if it leads to growing north-south resentment.