House price growth in rural areas outstrips towns in Great Britain

Rural areas have trumped towns and cities in house price growth over the past five years, with a semi in the countryside the top-performing property type, according to data for Great Britain.

The figures, issued by the mortgage lender Nationwide, showed that average house prices in predominantly rural areas rose by 22% over the period, compared with 17% in predominantly urban areas.

Urban flats had typically been the weakest performers over the past five years, it said.

The data captures some of the impact of the “race for space” sparked by the pandemic, which led to a surge in the numbers of people looking to move out of cities to rural areas, smaller towns or the coast – typically somewhere with a bigger garden, closer to open spaces, or offering more room for working from home.

However, research has suggested that some of those movers subsequently sold up and moved back to the suburbs or city.

Some of the top-performing rural areas include tourist hotspots such as parts of Devon and the Lake District, which suggests some of the demand may be being driven by those buying holiday and second homes, said Nationwide.

Andrew Harvey, the building society’s senior economist, said its analysis suggested that average house price growth in local authority areas classified as predominantly rural “has continued to outpace those of other areas”.

Of the 349 local authorities in Great Britain, the majority (61%) are classified as predominantly urban, and just over a quarter (26%) as predominantly rural. The researchers found that rural semi-detached homes had seen the strongest price growth over the five-year period, with average values increasing by 24%.

Rural terraced homes typically increased by 23% over the same period, as did urban semis, while rural detached properties were close behind at 22%.

Nationwide said flats had seen “considerably weaker” growth, and this applied particularly in predominantly urban areas, where prices typically increased by 5%.

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The figures were based on an analysis of official UK house price data produced by HM Land Registry and others, and covers the period from December 2018 to December 2023.

Earlier this year, the government unveiled new rules for short-term holiday lets in England that aimed to rein in a sector that has been described by some as “out of control”.


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