Ipswich: House price rise puts town in top three

IPSWICH: As the town enters 2012 aiming to be a beacon leading the country out of the economic doldrums, a new survey has shown that property prices here are rising faster than anywhere else in the region.

The cost of the “average” home in Ipswich went up from �151,448 to �165,749 during 2011 – a nine per cent increase according to a new national survey by the Halifax. That put it third in the national league table – just below Woking in Surrey and Falkirk in central Scotland.

Across the country the price of the average home fell by 4pc from �179,356 to �172,400.

Leading Ipswich estate agent Jeremy Goddard said he was not surprised prices had risen in Ipswich – although the figure of 9pc did seem quite high.

He said: “I think prices in Ipswich fell back more than in some other places at the start of the recession, so the town now looks to offer good value.

“We have certainly seen business remain brisk, even over the Christmas period. People remain keen to invest in property.”

Mr Goddard said that with the value of investments and pensions, many people still view property as a safe investment for the future – able to provide them with a steady income.

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He said new deals for first-time buyers, including some 95pc mortgage deals, were starting to bring people back to this sector of the market.

With relatively low property prices, reasonable communication links with London and other parts of the country, Ipswich is an attractive option, Mr Goddard added.

And he said the prospect of significant new developments – a new John Lewis At Home store and two new Waitroses would act to encourage more home buyers into the town.

“When David Cameron came to the town and said Ipswich could be a beacon for the country it really helped to boost the area,” he added.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said the report did flag up good news for the town, although it was important to remember that rising property prices made it more difficult for first-time buyers to get on to the property ladder.

He said: “I think that over the last 18 months people have started to look again at Ipswich and with the developments in the town centre it will become more attractive.

“But we now have to look at meeting the need for more family homes in the town – even before the economic crisis there was a major slowdown in building projects.”

Borough council leader David Ellesmere – who will be challenging Mr Gummer at the next general election – said the survey showed that Ipswich had a bright future.

“With the arrival of John Lewis and Waitrose it will become more attractive in the future. However we do need to ensure there are enough affordable family homes going into the future.”

A note of caution was sounded by estate agent and Conservative councillor Paul West, who was not convinced that property prices had gone up by as much as 9pc.

He said: “It is more difficult for young people to get their own first homes now – whether they rent or buy with a mortgage – and there remains a need for more homes that people want to live in.”

n Is the rise in house prices good for Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk