IT WAS Southend that grabbed the headlines over Christmas when it was revealed that, according to a Halifax Building Society survey, the Essex town had seen the biggest increase in house prices this year.
But at the other end of the table it was not such good news for Thurrock as Grays was the only place in the south of England to appear in the bottom ten in the league.
House prices in Grays dropped by 7.3% making the average house price, £178,864.
Grays covers the postal districts RM16/17 and 18 which includes Grays, Chadwell St. Mary, Chafford Hundred, North Stifford, Orsett, Badgers Dene and Tilbury (inc both west and east).
This contrasted with Southend where the average house price has risen by 14.8%. Many have put down the success in Southend to good schools and a rebranding of the town centre area.
And this contrasts sharply with Grays where the state of the town centre is often a reference point to individuals and businesses as to not moving there.
At the Thurrock business conference in November, 150 businesses were quizzed as to what were the top ten barriers to doing business in Thurrock.
Top of the list by far was: “Image and reputation.”
As one businessman said: “When people think of Thurrock, they don’t mean Horndon-on-the-Hill or a lovely walk in West Tilbury, they mean Grays Town Centre.”
Estate agents were able to give a different perspective.
Russell Quirk of emoov.co.uk said: “This could be down to supply and demand. There may be an over supply of flats in the Grays area.”
Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said: ‘Nationally, conditions in the housing market have been largely unchanged over the past 12 months with little overall movement in either house prices or sales for the second consecutive year. This picture, however, conceals considerable local differences.’
He said he expected continuing broad stability in house prices nationally in 2013, with the north/south divide likely to persist next year.
‘House prices are expected to be strongest in London and the South East as this part of the country performs best in economic terms,’ he added.
The Bottom Ten
Craigavon down 18.4% (to £91,530)
Wishaw 12.5% (£87,410)
Chorley 9.4% (£125,156)
Carlisle 9.3% (£123,100)
Wirral 9.3% (£160,375)
Hamilton 8.9% (£96,478)
Ayr 8.2% (£116,352)
Inverness 7.9% (£157,679)
Bury 7.4% (£121,433)
Grays 7.3% (£178,864)