A TOWN estate agent has no fears that the amount of proposed new houses in Hartlepool will struggle to sell.
David Sharpe, a sales negotiator for Dowen Estate Agents, in Hartlepool, spoke out after figures were released claiming that people were struggling to keep up with rocketing house prices as a result of a slower increase in workers’ salaries.
The statistics, released by the National Housing Federation, suggest mortgages and rents are being pushed out of the reach of many town employees with figures showing that house prices in Hartlepool rose by 100 per cent from 2002 to 2012, while rents saw a 31 per cent hike.
The ratio of house prices to income was 6.0.
But Dowen’s Mr Sharpe said the firm saw its best month last month for a number of years, and confirmed that it currently has 70 properties under offer, which is a good portion of its housing stock.
He said: “The market at the minute is really good and we had the best month last month that we’ve had in years.
“We aren’t seeing prices suddenly rocketing up, they’re levelling off and more people are not reducing as much.”
He said that the new builds in the town were not a worry either, and in fact the attraction of a newer property was encouraging more homeowners to sell their older houses.
“The new builds are having an effect on people wanting to sell their houses,” said Mr Sharpe. “Builders aren’t struggling either, the market is great at the moment.
“I think the fact that first time buyers are getting help to buy houses has had a good effect on the rest of the market as well.”
The town was ranked second in table of percentage house price increases in the region, behind Middlesbrough which recorded a 105 per cent increase in house prices, while the ratio of property values to wages was 6.8.
Rents there went up by 34 per cent.
Monica Burns, North East external affairs manager for the National Housing Federation, painted a different picture though, saying that loife was being made “extremely difficult” for people in the North East due to the gap between rising house prices and rents, and slower growth of wages.
She said: “High house prices, rising rents and stagnant wages in the North East are not only making life extremely difficult for people living and working in the region, but they are also affecting employers and businesses and risk holding back economic growth. Workers in the region are becoming a generation of renters, unable to get on the housing ladder and faced with continually rising rents.
“With more support, housing associations across the North-East can be real catalysts for change for local communities.
“They are in it for the long term and can actively drive forward a balanced economic recovery.”