Home owners in Melton have been given a surprise boost this week with news that the value of their properties has risen this year at a faster rate on average than virtually everywhere else in England.
Only the exclusive London borough of Kensington and Chelsea (18 per cent) and the desirable Gloucestershire location of the Forest of Dean (17.9 per cent) have seen house prices increase more than Melton’s 12.8 per cent.
The findings, revealed by the Office for National Statistics, fit in with a UK trend of property values tumbling in London and the south and rising significantly in the Midlands.
We reported last year that Leicester City and England footballer, Jamie Vardy, had put his Melton family home on the market for what was believed to be a record price for the town of £1.25million, which indicated an upturn in house values in the area.
The scale of the increase in Melton borough - it is more than three times the national average rise of 3.5 per cent - has taken town-based estate agents by surprise. But, they highlight the town’s central and attractive rural location and its value-for-money housing stock, compared to inflated prices down south, as reasons why it is becoming more desirable to live in this part of the world.
Danny Barradale, senior appraiser at Shoulers, on Wilton Road, said: “We have seen a rise in property values in Melton over the last five years, but I wouldn’t have expected it to be outstripping other areas as it appears to have done this year.
“A lot of it is down to location. It’s a good communting area for various cities, and for London.
“It’s down to being a nice rural location with nice open countryside on your doorstep, which not every town has got.”
Mr Barradale said there was clear evidence that properties had gone up in Melton in recent months, including affordable homes.
“A friend of mine bought his home on Soar Close five years ago for £200,000 and he has sold it for £270,000 without spending a penny on it,” he said.
“Three-bed semis on the Wimpey Estate which were £125,000 around five years ago are now selling for £175,000, so they are proving to be a pretty good investment for the owners.”
Mr Barradale added: “If you look at somewhere like West Bridgford, on the outskirts of Nottingham, property prices are astronomical, but if you drive just 25 miles into Melton houses are a lot more affordable.
“People are just cottoning on that Melton is a nice place to live, and there are also properties here which are much more affordable compared to other areas.”
Richard Harrison, senior residential valuer and associate director at Nottingham Street-based Bentons, said his company marketed properties across an area of 900 square miles and they had seen a particular recent rise in house prices in Melton.
“A typical three-bed semi in Baldocks Lane has gone up £20,000 in the last two years, for example, and two-bed semis in Elgin Drive and Sapcote Drive which were £165,000 to £170,000 a couple of years ago are now worth nearer £190,000,” he said.
“It has been a surprise to see how much property prices have risen, but it is good news for Melton because people know that if they put their home on the market it will sell and they will get good value for it.”
Mr Harrison said his company achieved about 98 per cent of the asking price for properties they market and that in Melton, more than anywhere else, sales are made on the best and final offer.
“I think we will see a steadier increase next year,” he added.
“In my opinion, this increase in values this year has just been a correction of the housing market in Leicestershire, so that prices are now more in line with other parts of the county.
“Housing prices have been rising in other areas of the county for a while and Melton’s have not, until this year.”
There is evidence that house prices increased markedly earlier in the year but not so much since then, according to Paul Collins, branch manager at Middletons, in Sherrard Street, Melton.
He highlighted statistics on online property website Right Move which showed that agents in the town had reduced the asking price for many of their properties since the start of September.
Mr Collins said there was uncertainty among property owners due to the downturn in the economy, and the nation’s looming withdrawal from the European Union, and there was a trend of people selling up and moving into rented accommodation.
He said: “Some of this increase in house prices could be down to enthusiastic agents, but when people hear about it, it will create activity in the housing market in Melton.
“I’ve just sold a property near the country park for £319,000 and the owners had bought it six years ago for £219,000.
“We had another house on the market in Thorpe Road six months ago for £200,000 and it has just gone for £230,000.”
There is a trend of retired people moving to Melton, Mr Collins added, because of its location and the perceived value for money of property.
He said: “We are seeing couples from the south who are nearing retirement selling a property which is worth treble down there and moving up to the Midlands, where they are in a good location to be able to travel to see their kids wherever they are.
“Places like Melton are becoming more desirable for people like this.”
Melton Council recently approved its Local Plan, which will see 6,125 new homes built across the borough up to 2036, around 65 per cent in the town and the remainder in the villages. Around four in 10 of these new properties will be affordable, or starter homes.