The profit-loss divide on a decade’s house prices

Land accounts for 51% of the UK’s total net worth of £10.2 trillion, far more than in France (42%) or Germany (26%). Most of this, £4.1 trillion, is the value of the land our homes are built on – the buildings are worth a further £1.8 trillion.

From 2009 to 2017, the Office for National Statistics reckons that land held by households has risen by a compound annual growth rate of 5.9%. But that disguises huge local differences. I compared the latest June 2018 data from the Land Registry’s House Price Index to that of a decade earlier, and found that in 42 of the UK’s 217 top-tier local authority areas house prices have actually fallen in cash terms over the decade. They are marked pink and red on this map.

Prices fell in all of Northern Ireland; most of south-west Scotland; Aberdeen and Angus; north-east England except for some of Tyneside; Lancashire and eastern Merseyside; Barnsley, Doncaster and North East Lincolnshire; the south-west corner of Wales; and Blaenau Gwent.

Except for Shetland (the biggest climber at 142%) and Orkney, all the areas where house prices increased by more than 40% are in or near the usual bottom-right corner of England. In Greater London, all but one borough saw prices rise by at least 50%.

House prices matter most if you want to buy your first home – in an area probably chosen for work – or move to a different area, probably for the same reason. Over the last decade, it’s become even harder to move to London and its environs. These are, of course, the places that have many of the best job opportunities.

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