HOUSE sales in and around Chester have risen by as much as 47 per cent – the second highest in the North West and eighth highest in the country – new figures reveal.
Figures from Lloyds Banking Group show the number of home sales in 2013 has increased by more than 30 per cent across England and Wales, with Chester being the eighth strongest performer nationally and second only to Salford in the region.
Estate agents in Chester say they have seen business improve across the board but point out there have been winners and losers in the city after the crash.
Graham Geldeard, senior negotiator at Reeds Rains on Station Road, Chester, said people who bought apartments had made a loss.
He said: “Chester was in a bubble which hit a ceiling and then came crashing down. People who bought apartments made a huge loss on them and even now when people buy them they are still losing value.
“Now we are getting at the right level with the prices so there will be a bit of an increase in the next few months or so but people are much more wary this time round in the North West.
“Salford is on the rise with everything with Media City and new apartments going up so it doesn’t surprise me we are second to Salford.”
Mr Geldeard said they were advising buyers to move quickly to get a house otherwise they might be spending yet more in a few months.
He added: “All the properties under £250,000 are going really fast. Above that they are taking a bit longer but that is a different market.
“First time buyers are getting into the market because of Help to Buy and if they are not getting Help to Buy then they are finding there are more mortage offers available now.”
Diane Owen, manager at Intercounty Estate Agents on Saughall Road, Blacon, said it might be the beginning of a bubble.
“It is definitely getting busier,” she said. “There are some first time buyers out there and still of lot of investors buying.
“We are also seeing a lot of parents trying to buy to help their sons and daughters get on the property ladder.
“Prices have definitely gone up as well. At one stage we had a few properties under £100,000 but there are practically none now and the ones which are under £100,000 all need a lot of work doing to them. The bottom end of the market is really picking up.”
Ms Owen added: “Chester is expensive and very popular, it always is and it could be the beginning of a bubble.
“The only real change in the last few years is that apartments are not as popular. They still sell but not as much. Going back a few years, all anyone wanted was an apartment because they were all being built and because it was a bit of a trend.”
Marc Page, mortgages director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Since spring 2013 housing activity in England and Wales has been on the rise, with home sales in the six months to September up by over a fifth compared to the same period a year earlier.
“This increase is the strongest on this basis in over a decade. In addition, the number of towns in the survey recording an increase in transactions has grown over three times compared to the same period in 2012.
“Low interest rates, improvements in consumer confidence and government schemes, such as Help to Buy, all appear to have contributed to the rise in home sales.”