Hometrack survey suggests split in market conditions between northern and southern areas of England

The housing market in southern parts of the country is speeding up faster than in the north of England, according to a new survey by property website Hometrack.

The findings of the survey, which covered England and Wales, also suggest that a broad recovery of the housing market is “some years” away.

Evidence of a North/South divide in market conditions can be seen in the length of time houses stay on the market – in the southern regions of England, the average time taken to sell is below nine weeks, whereas in northern areas it is over 10 weeks.

In London, that average dips to as low as 5.8 weeks but in Wales houses take an average of 11.8 weeks. House prices only increased in 10% of postcodes during the last month, the vast majority in southern England.

Housing estate
House prices across the board remained static for the third consecutive month

Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack, said: “When we look back on the first half of 2009, the likelihood is that the tales of green shoots are proven to be little more than an unsustainable and short term blip. A blip fed by pent-up demand feeding back into the market from opportunistic cash buyers and households looking for family homes in southern England where supply is most constrained.”

The survey also found that house prices across the board remained static for the third consecutive month.

However, the proportion of the asking price being achieved continued to slowly rise - up to 91.5% this month, compared with 88.3% in January.

But Donnell sounded a note of caution for those hopeful of a market resurgence. He said: “In the last recession it took five years from the peak of the market to the beginnings of a sustainable pick-up in transactions and house prices. Approaching two years into the start of the current downturn, history suggests the market has some way to go before the real green shoots of recovery begin to emerge.”