Research has revealed Wigan as the surprise winner of the best location to own property in during 2011. The town posted the biggest increases in house prices.
So who were the other winners, and where are the losers?
WinnersOverall average house prices in Britain finished 2011 at £221,331, down a modest £854 (0.38%) from the same time one year ago, according to property valuation website Zoopla.co.uk. The biggest falls were in England, where the average house price fell by 0.75% to £228,92.
However, within the bigger picture, there are some shining gems. Chief among them is Wigan, with property values having climbed 5.62% (£7,057) during the year.
It was followed by Aberdeen, where prices are up 4.3%. Next is Ipswich with 3.84%, then Cardiff at 3.51% and Edinburgh at 3.17%.
Why?Given that the overall picture is so weak, the reasons for these local pockets of out-performance are very much down to the individual area. Wigan, for example, benefits from being the cheapest place in the top ten best performers. Low cost property means that buyers are able to do more with smaller mortgages, and therefore they may be able to bypass the mortgage drought in order to trade up.
LosersAt the other end of the spectrum was Newcastle, which saw an average decline in property prices of 5.5% (£9,650) over 2011. It was followed by Leicester, Bolton, Lincoln and Liverpool. Again these are areas with local reasons for falls. In many cases the local jobs market is under severe stress, which means the number of buyers is drying up. At the same time, a prolonged period of falls means buyers don't have the equity they need to move without the help of a relatively large mortgage - which is increasingly hard to come by.
Nicholas Leeming of Zoopla.co.uk commented: "National statistics on the housing market can mask differing fortunes in different parts of the country. Londoners continue to see the market go from strength to strength with high demand for a limited number of properties boosting house prices. However, for areas such as the North East where the local economy has suffered more than most, it's a different story. 2012 does not show much sign of being markedly different to 2011, however, if the overall economy starts to show signs of strength this will filter quickly through to the property market."
So what do you think? What is affecting prices in your area? And when can you expect things to get better? Let us know in the comments.
Best performing cities in 2011Wigan 5.62%
Worst performing cities in 2011Newcastle Upon Tyne -5.51%
Source: Zoopla.co.uk, January 2012