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Somerset’s Taunton sees biggest house price rises, says Halifax 

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The Somerset town of Taunton has seen the biggest rise in house prices in Britain, with values up more than 20 per cent this year.

It tops a list of the house price winners and losers in 2021, compiled by Halifax, with towns and more rural areas leading the way.

The huge 21.8 per cent growth in property values in Taunton is more than three times the national average, which currently stands at 6.2 per cent.

Pictured: Somerset's Taunton has seen the biggest rise in house prices, up 21.8 per cent in a year, according to research by Halifax

Pictured: Somerset’s Taunton has seen the biggest rise in house prices, up 21.8 per cent in a year, according to research by Halifax

Halifax has revealed the areas with the biggest increases in house price growth in Britain

Halifax has revealed the areas with the biggest increases in house price growth in Britain

In cash terms, the rise in Taunton translates to £56,546, bringing the average price of a home in the Somerset town to £315,759.

Also ranking highly in the price winners’ list is in the Wiltshire town of Chippenham, which has good links to the M4 and rural surroundings.

Although it has seen a smaller percentage increase in house prices of 18.1 per cent, this translates into the biggest rise in cash terms of almost £60,000 in just one year.

Average values in Chippenham have increased from £322,859 in 2020 to £381,181 a year later, having risen £58,322.

Another winner in the hotspot list is the Wiltshire town of Chippenham, which has seen the biggest rise in cash terms of almost £60,000 in just one year

Another winner in the hotspot list is the Wiltshire town of Chippenham, which has seen the biggest rise in cash terms of almost £60,000 in just one year

The top 20 areas with the highest price rises do not contain any London boroughs, reflecting how buyers have shunned cities in favour of towns and rural areas during the pandemic.

Rising house prices were not limited to the South. Indeed, the Halifax research found that only five of the top 20 biggest rises occurred in towns across the South East and South West.

The remaining 15 were spread across the Midlands, Wales, North of England and Scotland.

WHY SOMERSET’S TAUNTON? 

Pictured: Somerset's Taunton

Pictured: Somerset’s Taunton

Somerset’s Taunton reaching the top slot of house price rises has not come as a surprise to some.

Residents praise its commutable distance to London for those only required to be in the office a couple of days a week, its good schools and a National Park being on its doorstep. 

Robin Gould, of buying agents Prime Purchase, said: ‘I’ve been recommending Taunton to clients for years. It has long been the place where you can get more for your money, although predictably property prices are now rising.

‘If you look at a map, it looks a long way from everything and yet it’s less than two hours on the train from London Paddington so it’s very quick. If you don’t have to commute every day, it’s incredibly accessible.

‘Although Taunton was bombed during the war and so much of it is modern and ugly, it has everything you could possibly want – good schools, shops, and Exmoor on the doorstep. It offers that balance between London and country, and with more people searching by lifestyle, it ticks all the boxes.’

TOWNS WITH THE HIGHEST HOUSE PRICE GROWTH 2020 – 2021
Town Region Average House Price 2020 Average House Price 2021 1 year change £ 1 year change %
Taunton South West 259,213 315,759 56,546 21.8%
Newark East Midlands 234,202 280,934 46,732 20.0%
Rochdale North West 173,975 206,098 32,123 18.5%
Chippenham South West 322,859 381,181 58,322 18.1%
Braintree South East 301,980 356,216 54,236 18.0%
Widnes North West 189,247 222,876 33,628 17.8%
Motherwell Scotland 151,015 177,118 26,103 17.3%
Bolton North West 181,853 212,671 30,818 16.9%
Hereford West Midlands 262,536 306,872 44,336 16.9%
Walsall West Midlands 199,358 230,972 31,614 15.9%
Bradford Yorkshire and Humberside 147,361 170,684 23,323 15.8%
Swansea Wales 183,230 211,590 28,360 15.5%
Kettering East Midlands 248,320 285,103 36,783 14.8%
Maidstone South East 323,208 370,964 47,756 14.8%
Newton Abbot South West 284,609 326,623 42,014 14.8%
Spalding East Midlands 230,965 264,668 33,703 14.6%
Wirral North West 241,107 276,042 34,936 14.5%
Scunthorpe Yorkshire and Humberside 154,199 176,186 21,986 14.3%
Doncaster Yorkshire and Humberside 176,728 201,824 25,096 14.2%
Hamilton Scotland 139,951 159,176 19,225 13.7%
UK average 304,598 323,355 18,757 6.2%
Source: Halifax         

The area of London with the highest growth was Enfield, where average values were up 6.8 per cent, from £479,745 in 2020, to £512,135 in 2021.

It was marginally ahead of Harrow, where average prices rose 6.7 per cent, from £531,708 in 2020 to £567,501 in 2021.

Russell Galley, of Halifax, said: ‘As the county town of Somerset, this year’s house prince winner, Taunton, has a lot to offer homebuyers with its high quality of life and great transport links to major towns and cities across the South West.

‘Like Taunton, many of the areas that saw the biggest house price growth over the last year enjoy a combination of greater affordability and space compared to nearby cities. 

‘Places like Bolton, Newark, Bradford and Hamilton – where there are a broad range of property types and settings – all offer significantly better value than their more metropolitan neighbours.’

‘This is perhaps most clearly shown in the UK’s capital. It is rare that no London boroughs appear among the areas of highest house price growth but that is the case in 2021. 

‘This shift echoes what we have seen from home buyers over the last year – less focus on major cities and more demand in the suburbs and further afield.’

Rise of the North

The top 20 areas for house price growth included four from the North West – which were Rochdale, Widnes, Bolton, and Wirral – three from Yorkshire and the Humber – which were Bradford, Scunthorpe, and Doncaster – and two from Scotland, which were Motherwell and Hamilton. A further six were from the Midlands and Wales.

It is in sharp contrast with 2020, when 11 of the areas with the greatest growth were in London and the South.

The top 20 areas for house price growth included fourlocations in the North West - including Rochdale in Greater Manchester (pictured)

The top 20 areas for house price growth included fourlocations in the North West – including Rochdale in Greater Manchester (pictured)

REGIONAL HOUSE PRICE CHANGES 2020 – 2021
Region Average House Price 2020 Average House Price 2021 1 year change £ 1 year change %
Wales 202,680 231,134 28,454 14.0%
Yorkshire and Humberside 209,858 231,553 21,695 10.3%
East Midlands 241,453 265,828 24,375 10.1%
East Anglia 294,814 322,604 27,790 9.4%
Scotland 191,017 207,778 16,761 8.8%
North West 223,913 242,286 18,373 8.2%
Northern Ireland 175,528 188,892 13,364 7.6%
South West 306,502 329,110 22,608 7.4%
West Midlands 251,474 266,659 15,185 6.0%
North 184,678 195,515 10,837 5.9%
South East 408,391 420,042 11,651 2.9%
Greater London 558,272 554,684 -3,588 -0.6%
UK average 304,598 323,355 18,757 6.2%
Source: Halifax         

Wales saw the greatest rate of house price growth across any region in Britain, according to Halifax, with the value of homes rising by 14 per cent on average, from £202,680 in 2020 to £231,134 in 2021.

This was well ahead of those in second and third place – Yorkshire and Humber and East Anglia – where gains of just over 10 per cent were made during the past 12 months.

On average, almost every region between the Midlands and Scotland saw house prices increase by the national average or more during the last year.

Scotland saw average growth of 8.8 per cent, with prices rising by £16,761 to £207,778. Motherwell saw the highest growth with 17.3 per cent, up £26,103 to £177,118, ahead of Hamilton at 13.7 per cent – up £19,225 to £159,176 -, and Dumfries on 13.6 per cent – up £20,982 to £175,002.

Like the rest of Britain, while the major cities saw growth, in most instances it was at a rate below the Scottish average.

Only Dundee – at 11.3 per cent – had an above regional average increase, with Aberdeen at 8.4 per cent, Glasgow at 7.1 per cent, and Edinburgh at 7.0 per cent all falling short of Scotland-wide gains.

At the other end of the country, the capital experienced a largely flat year for house prices. Greater London saw average prices fall marginally, down 0.6 per cent from £558,272 to £554,684.

The picture across individual boroughs was mixed. Enfield and Harrow were the only two areas with growth beyond the national average. Westminster saw the greatest fall of any area of the country, down 6.9 per cent.

TOWNS WITH THE LOWEST HOUSE PRICE GROWTH, 2020 – 2021
Town Region Average House Price 2020 Average House Price 2021 1 year change £ 1 year change %
Westminster Greater London 792,896 738,088 -54,809 -6.9%
Airdrie Scotland 156,897 150,874 -6,023 -3.8%
Hammersmith And Fulham Greater London 741,066 716,541 -24,525 -3.3%
Coatbridge Scotland 149,315 145,880 -3,435 -2.3%
Islington Greater London 727,922 716,554 -11,368 -1.6%
Kirkcaldy Scotland 155,888 157,663 1,774 1.1%
Oxford South East 477,085 482,893 5,808 1.2%
Croydon Greater London 429,939 436,441 6,502 1.5%
Inverness Scotland 195,534 198,672 3,137 1.6%
Cambridge East Anglia 465,191 473,790 8,600 1.8%
Dartford South East 347,098 353,714 6,616 1.9%
Gravesend South East 347,366 356,196 8,830 2.5%
Stockton On Tees North 185,997 190,736 4,739 2.5%
Waltham Cross South East 403,208 414,071 10,863 2.7%
Glenrothes Scotland 147,250 151,945 4,695 3.2%
Bexley Greater London 401,946 416,390 14,444 3.6%
Waltham Forest Greater London 509,443 530,176 20,733 4.1%
Havering Greater London 411,084 428,012 16,927 4.1%
Sutton Greater London 461,736 481,265 19,529 4.2%
Enfield Greater London 479,745 512,135 32,390 6.8%
UK average 304,598 323,355 18,757 6.2%
Source: Halifax           

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Catella invests €15.5m in Portuguese student accommodation

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The Catella European Residential Fund (CER) has made its first venture into the emerging Portuguese institutional investment market for student housing with the acquisition of an asset in the municipality of Cascais, just to the west of Lisbon, for €15.5m. The vendor is Value One HoldingThe property is located close to the beach in the Lombos neighbourhood of Carcavelos within the Cascais municipality and is a 10-minute walk from Portugal’s most prestigious business school, the NOVA School of Business and Economics, which has a student population of over 3,500. The centre of Lisbon can be reached within 20 minutes via two train stations. The 6,622m² property was built in 2020 and comprises 192 spacious single rooms (20m² on average) with a gym, rooftop terrace, study, music and leisure rooms and parking. It is 99% occupied and has obtained LEED Gold sustainability certification for its construction.

 

European student accommodation provider MILESTONE operates the residence under a management contract. MILESTONE was founded in Vienna, is a member of the Value One Group, an international real estate Developer and student housing operator and brings extensive knowledge of the conception, design and successful management of student housing, combined with international expertise. MILESTONE currently has 4,627 beds of purpose-built student housing under management and in development across Austria, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Italy.

 

Eduardo Guardiola, Managing Partner of Catella AM Iberia, said: This is a milestone for CER marking the vehicle’s first investment in Portugal. It is also an important step for CRIM as it represents the investment manager’s entry into Portugal. For Catella AM Iberia it marks our third transaction as advisors on a student accommodation acquisition in the Iberian region. The Portuguese real estate market is becoming increasingly relevant across both the affordable rental and student housing markets – which although very different in maturity and size offer some excellent investment opportunities.”

 

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Kirstie and Phil’s Love It Or List It viewers slam father-of-two who ‘clearly wants a bachelor pad’

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Viewers of Kirstie and Phil’s Love it or List it last night slammed a father-of-two who ‘clearly wanted a bachelor pad’ after he said he wanted a home where his children were ‘out the way.’

Sophie and Paul, from Aylesbury, who had spent the last eight years  in their home, had been totally split on whether they should renovate or list their property on the market for three years. 

The couple had allocated £90,000 to transform their house, but also had a £525,000 budget to look at new homes elsewhere. 

Following Kirstie’s advice on the show, they spent £80,000 converting their garage into a large living space as well as knocking down their old conservatory to make way for a huge extension.

But many of those watching were unimpressed by Paul’s attitude after he said he liked their new playroom because it meant his children ‘couldn’t bug him’.

Viewers of Kirstie and Phil's Love it or List it last night slammed Paul, from Aylesbury who 'clearly wanted a bachelor pad' after he said a home where his children were 'out the way'

Viewers of Kirstie and Phil’s Love it or List it last night slammed Paul, from Aylesbury who ‘clearly wanted a bachelor pad’ after he said a home where his children were ‘out the way’

Sophie and Paul had spent the last eight years in their home but said they had been totally split on whether they should renovate or list their property on the market for three years

Sophie and Paul had spent the last eight years in their home but said they had been totally split on whether they should renovate or list their property on the market for three years

The couple allocated £90,000 to transform their home and added an enormous extension, as well as converting their garage

The couple allocated £90,000 to transform their home and added an enormous extension, as well as converting their garage 

One wrote: ‘He doesn’t like his in-laws, his kids or his house. Think he wishes he was still a bachelor.’

Another wrote: ‘The partner is just gross, he just keeps going on about not being a bachelor anymore and how he doesn’t want the kids to bug him.

‘I get the sense he still likes to think of himself as a bachelor, I can just imagine him on a night out without her.’ 

Appearing on the programme last night, Sophie and Paul had been together for eight years and had two children, seven-year-old Finley and three-year-old Georgia. 

Both Sophie and Paul confessed they felt their family had outgrown the space which they had been living in for the past 13 years

Both Sophie and Paul confessed they felt their family had outgrown the space which they had been living in for the past 13 years 

Following Kirstie's advice they converted their garage into a large living space as well as knocking down their old conservatory to make way for a huge extension

Following Kirstie’s advice they converted their garage into a large living space as well as knocking down their old conservatory to make way for a huge extension

But when Paul bought their three bedroom house 13 years ago, a family home was not the objective. 

He explained: ‘This was my bachelor pad. I’m team List It, I want something fresh and new for Sophie and the kids.’

Meanwhile Sophie said: ‘I’m definitely a home bird and I love being here.’

She said they relied on her parents ‘a lot’ because they lived at the bottom of the road.   

Paul said the living room was one of his pet hates because the family were 'always on top of each other'

Paul said the living room was one of his pet hates because the family were ‘always on top of each other’ 

Meanwhile the couple had converted the property's conservatory into a playroom but admitted it wasn't fit for purpose for their children

Meanwhile the couple had converted the property’s conservatory into a playroom but admitted it wasn’t fit for purpose for their children 

But Paul said: ‘My pet hates include the location, the small bedroom upstairs is a tiny box-room. 

‘The playroom downstairs isn’t fit for purpose, the kitchen needs overhauling and the garage is a mess.

‘The most important thing for me in a house is having the divide between adult space and children space and I think that’s important especially as they grow up.’ 

Sophie added: ‘We’ve been in a limbo now for three years where nothing has been done.’  

The first property that Phil showed the couple was a 1930s semi which was just one mile away from their current home was (pictured)

The first property that Phil showed the couple was a 1930s semi which was just one mile away from their current home was (pictured) 

The four-bedroom home was listed under budget at £475,000 with a cosy separate living room, an up to date kitchen diner and a large family garden (pictured, the kitchen diner)

The four-bedroom home was listed under budget at £475,000 with a cosy separate living room, an up to date kitchen diner and a large family garden (pictured, the kitchen diner) 

While Sophie said the bedrooms were 'nice' (pictured), Paul commented that a spiral staircase up to the master suite was 'a bit tight when you come home late at night drunk'

While Sophie said the bedrooms were ‘nice’ (pictured), Paul commented that a spiral staircase up to the master suite was ‘a bit tight when you come home late at night drunk’

She told Kirstie and Phil she wanted to extend their home, while Paul said: ‘I’ve fallen out of love with the property. We’re all on top of each other here.’ 

But Sophie admitted she was unwilling to move further than a 15 minute drive from her parent’s home. 

Kirstie warned they would have to go to the top of their budget to fix the home’s problems, suggesting extending the kitchen diner into the area where the current conservatory is.

Meanwhile she said they could also convert the garage into a new living room, creating space for a new hallway. 

The second property on the search was in the village of Prestwood and priced at just under £550,000 (pictured)

The second property on the search was in the village of Prestwood and priced at just under £550,000 (pictured) 

It had four bright bedrooms, all of which were big enough to accommodate the children as they got older, as well as a separate playroom and a large kitchen (pictured, the kitchen)

It had four bright bedrooms, all of which were big enough to accommodate the children as they got older, as well as a separate playroom and a large kitchen (pictured, the kitchen)

Paul confessed he liked the property because of it's playroom, adding it would 'keep the children out the way' (pictured)

Paul confessed he liked the property because of it’s playroom, adding it would ‘keep the children out the way’ (pictured) 

Upstairs, the extension would give space for four bedrooms and a master suite.

Meanwhile the first property that Phil showed the couple was a 1930s semi which was just one mile away from their current home was. 

The four-bedroom home was listed under budget at £475,000 with a cosy separate living room, an up to date kitchen diner and a large family garden.

While Sophie said the bedrooms were ‘nice’, Paul commented that a spiral staircase up to the master suite was ‘a bit tight when you come home late at night drunk.’  

The final property was a large detached four-bedroom home was on budget for £525,000 (pictured)

The final property was a large detached four-bedroom home was on budget for £525,000 (pictured) 

It featured a large kitchen diner (pictured) and an office room to the front which could be used as a playroom

It featured a large kitchen diner (pictured) and an office room to the front which could be used as a playroom 

However the couple ultimately decided the downstairs living space wasn’t large enough for their family. 

The second property on the search was in the village of Prestwood and priced at just under £550,000. 

The detached home had been on the market a while, and Phil hoped that a deal could be done.

It had four bright bedrooms, all of which were big enough to accommodate the children as they got older, as well as a separate playroom and a large kitchen.   

After fifteen months of renovations, Kirstie and Phil returned to see the couple's changes to their property and were blown away

After fifteen months of renovations, Kirstie and Phil returned to see the couple’s changes to their property and were blown away 

Commenting on the couple's decision to have  a larger playroom for their children, Paul said it meant they 'wouldn't come through to bug us'

Commenting on the couple’s decision to have  a larger playroom for their children, Paul said it meant they ‘wouldn’t come through to bug us’

Paul commented: ‘Good playroom at the front…keep them out the way. Eventually this could be my main cave.’ 

And the final property in their search was in the quaint village of Stoke, with Paul saying: ‘I like the outside and it’s in a good location.’

The four-bedroom home was on budget for £525,000, with a large kitchen diner and an office room to the front which could be used as a playroom.

Outside, there was a double length garage which could be used for storage space. 

Fifteen months after the couple started the renovations on their home, Kirstie and Phil returned to find the property had been completely transformed. 

However despite Sophie and Paul's joy about their converted home, and their decision to stay in the property, many viewers were unimpressed by his attitud

However despite Sophie and Paul’s joy about their converted home, and their decision to stay in the property, many viewers were unimpressed by his attitud

They were blown away by the extension the couple had added to their home, with even Sophie admitting it was ‘bigger than they expected it to be.’

Meanwhile Paul added: ‘It’s definitely not a bachelor pad now.’

And commenting on the decision to build a separate  play room, he said: ‘The children can turn right [to the playroom] as opposed to coming all the way through here and bugging us.’ 

Overall the couple spent £80,000 and the property value has increased by £150,0000.

However despite Sophie and Paul’s joy about their converted home, and their decision to stay in the property, many viewers were unimpressed by his attitude. 

One wrote: ‘I think this guy just doesn’t want to live in the same house as his kids.’

Another added: ‘The guy on this obviously wants away from her parents and somewhere to shove the kids out of the way…he wants a bachelor pad…just come out and say it!’

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Four found dead at US-Canada border believed to be human smuggling victims

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The bodies were found on Wednesday in barren, snow-covered terrain just feet from the United States border in Manitoba, Canada: a man, a woman, a teenager and an infant who appeared to have frozen to death while trying to cross into the US, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

All four have been tentatively identified as members of a family who may have been victims of a human smuggling operation, the authorities said. Their bodies were discovered about 30-40ft from the US border, in a remote area just less than 10km east of Emerson, Manitoba, the authorities said.

“It is an absolute and heartbreaking tragedy,” assistant commissioner Jane MacLatchy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said at a news conference on Thursday, adding that it appeared that all four had died of exposure to the cold.

She emphasised that investigators consider the four to be victims. “We’re very concerned that this attempted crossing may have been facilitated in some way and that these individuals, including an infant, were left on their own in the middle of a blizzard when the weather hovered around minus-35 degrees Celsius, factoring the wind,” Ms MacLatchy said. “These victims faced not only the cold weather but also endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness.”

The bodies were found after US Border Patrol agents stopped Steve Shand (47), of Florida, on Wednesday, while he was driving a 15-passenger van less than 2km south of the Canadian border in a rural area between the official ports of entry at Lancaster, Minnesota and Pembina, North Dakota, federal prosecutors in Minnesota said. He was charged with human smuggling.

Law enforcement officials said two passengers in the rented van that Mr Shand was driving were citizens of India without legal permission to be in the US. While Mr Shand and his passengers were being taken to a Border Patrol station in North Dakota, law enforcement officers found five more Indian citizens walking in the snow about a quarter-mile south of the Canadian border, in the direction of where Mr Shand had been arrested, prosecutors said.

Separated

The five Indian nationals, who appeared to be headed to an unstaffed gas plant in St Vincent, Minnesota, told law enforcement officials that they had expected to be picked up by someone, prosecutors said. They said that they had been walking for more than 11 hours and had crossed the border from Canada into the United States, prosecutors said.

One member of the group said he was carrying a backpack for a family of four Indian citizens who had become separated from his group during the night, court documents said. Inside the backpack were children’s clothes, a diaper, toys and children’s medication.

Canadian authorities then began a search with snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles that led to the discovery of the four bodies in Manitoba. One Indian woman in the group that had survived the crossing into the United States stopped breathing several times while she was being transported by the Border Patrol, court documents showed. She was flown to a hospital where she will likely require partial amputation of one of her hands because of exposure to the extreme cold, the documents stated.

Court

Prosecutors said Mr Shand made his first appearance on Thursday in US District Court for the District of Minnesota, where he was ordered to remain in custody until a hearing on Monday. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer. In a criminal complaint, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations said that the four deaths were being investigated “along with an investigation into a larger human smuggling operation of which Shand is suspected of being a part”.

According to the complaint, a Border Patrol agent said he knew of three other smuggling operations that happened in the place where Mr Shand was arrested. Two were in December and one was earlier this month, according to the complaint.

The complaint states that one of the Indian citizens detained on Wednesday said that he had paid a “significant amount” of money to enter Canada from India with a fraudulently obtained student visa. The man said he had walked across the border into the United States and had expected to be picked up by someone who would take him to his uncle’s house in Chicago.

Ms MacLatchy said she had a message for anyone who was thinking of crossing the international border in Manitoba: “Just don’t do it.”

“Do not listen to anyone who tells you they can get you to your destination safely,” she said. “They cannot. Even with proper clothing, it is not a journey that is possible.” – This article originally appeared in the New York Times

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