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North-South divide in UK house prices still strong

The housing market performed better in southern areas of England than northern ones during 2010 but Scotland and Wales saw some of the biggest price gains, research showed today.

Conwy in Wales was the county with the strongest price increases during the year, with the typical cost of a home jumping by 13% to £162,691, according to mortgage lender Halifax.

It was followed by East Dunbartonshire and Dumfries and Galloway, both in Scotland, which saw rises of 12% and 11%, respectively.

During the past five years, Scotland has seen the strongest house price growth, accounting for seven of the top 10 counties that have had the steepest rises, with the remaining three in Northern Ireland.

Half of the top 20 counties that saw the biggest price gains during the year were in southern England, with seven in the South East, three in the South West and one in East Anglia.

By contrast only two regions in northern England made it on to the list. These were Cheshire in the North West, where prices rose by 5%, and County Durham in the North, where they increased by 4%.

The rest of the top 20 was made up of two counties in Wales, three in Scotland, and one each in the East Midlands and West Midlands.

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Surrey is the most expensive county in the UK, with the average home costing £296,344.

At the other end of the scale, Blaenau Gwent in Wales has the lowest house prices, at an average of £86,385.

Suren Thiru, housing economist at Halifax, said: "Looking forward, we predict that UK house prices at the end of 2011 will be at a broadly similar level to that at the end of 2010.

"We do, however, expect some modest variations in house price performance across the country."