The property hotpots for 2012
Yet several measures announced in the Chancellor's autumn statement are set to transform some areas on the UK, so where are the hotpots for the year ahead?
Following George Osborne's announcement of 35 new transport improvements in the Autumn Statement, The Daily Telegraph has collated the areas set to present savvy buyers with some serious bargain opportunities.
1. Battersea, south-west London
With the proposed Tube station and Northern Line extension that will be part of the Battersea Power Station, Douglas & Gordon has already reported increased interest in existing homes. Redevelopment will see 3,400 luxury apartments, three million square feet of shops and offices, plus a possible new Chelsea Football Club stadium. The new American Embassy, scheduled to open by 2017, is also set to improve roads and security.
Property in the the city is currently low cost as it has poor rail links with London. A detached house is typically £179,000, says the Land Registry. But agents estimate values may rise by 5 to 10% , matching those of nearby Boston, when the city is easier to access. "If the promised eastern bypass is built, it'll be extremely good news. We're already seeing the benefit of a new dual carriageway linking Nottingham and Newark," says Rupert Fishers of Savills.
3. North Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, North Buckinghamshire
Travel between Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes, plus surrounding areas, will become much easier when the proposed £270m east-west train link goes ahead. Areas to the north of these towns, previously deemed too far from London, will also benefit. Expect places such as Bedford, Buckingham, St Neots and even Newport Pagnell to see price rises of about 5%.
4. Kent and Essex
The Government is known to be looking at two airport schemes, one on the Isle of Sheppey and the other off the Isle of Grain. If either gets the go-ahead, homes very close by could be blighted but the wider region could see house prices fly high. The Heathrow experience suggests that good country properties not under the flight path but a short drive away carry premiums of 10% or more.
5. Torbay, Devon
Until now it's been a pain to reach to the beaches and cream teas of Torbay and Paignton, but that will end once the newly funded Kingskerswell bypass is built. "This has consistently been the most underrated and underpriced part of Devon. It's the next hot spot in the West Country," insists Andrew Bullivant of estate agency King Sturge.
Buyers are advised to get in quick before the "English Riviera" prices match nearby Devon idylls Salcombe and Dartmouth. Torbay prices are tipped to rise by 5% next year.
6. The Chilterns
The Government's HS2 high-speed rail link may be modified in a way that will help local housing markets, with a tunnel through the Chilterns tipped to be announced in January. Owners in Great Missenden, Princes Risborough and Wendover have been under threat of long-term noise and damage to the countryside. If the blight is lifted, the recently depressed house prices will rise next year.
"Proposed changes to the M3 as well as infrastructure improvements around Portsmouth are very good news," says Andrew Rome of Knight Frank. It now looks likely that hard-shoulder running and some new lanes will effectively expand the M3. Hampshire will become a viable commuter alternative to the more expensive Surrey. The county's most beautiful villages such as Greywell, Odiham, Crondall and Long Sutton may become a little more accessible and prices will rise further.
The Tyne and Wear Metro service, a clean and efficient under- and overground system, is to get more funding. Heavily reliant on public-sector employment, the city's housing market could do with a boost. Newcastle prices fell 8% this year, according to the Land Registry, but remain more expensive than Tyneside, Sunderland and Gateshead.
9. Greater Manchester
Salford has seen a 5% price hike since the influx of 2,000 BBC staff. More housing market boosts will come next year when the Chancellor is funding improved links to the M56 and A6 at Manchester Airport. This will provide money for a new city bus scheme and a big public-private project for a job-rich distribution centre near the Manchester Ship Canal.
Broadband improvements will make working from home easier, while a "rapid transit link" bus service gets £50m, and £35m is going into roads in the south of the city. "Bristol is already appealing. It is clean, friendly and manageable. Expect demand to rise, with 5% on values next year," says Viv Chalfont, who runs her own buying agency.