A HOUSING market boom has hit Worcestershire - with average prices rocketing by a staggering 12 per cent in one year.
Your Worcester News can reveal how the county is basking in a surge in the property market which is outstripping the rest of the region and has added £23,000 to home values.
Newly released data from Worcestershire County Council shows how average prices were up 11.8 per cent between April, May and June this year compared to the same period in 2013.
The surge led to average sales going from £196,573 to £219,679, with prices up eight per cent in Worcester, 12 per cent in Wychavon and a massive 18 per cent in Wyre Forest compared to 2013.
A surge in sales is driving the hike, with the number of homes changing hands up 36 per cent across Worcestershire, including 44 per cent in Wychavon.
Experts in Worcester now say the entire county may be only a year away from its housing market returning to in or around the 2007 boom levels - saying in the 12-month period up to June this year average prices were up 5.4 per cent, compared to 4.7 per cent for the rest of the region and 6.4 per cent nationally.
Worcestershire County Council has also revealed how the improved figures is being matched by new house building, which was up a massive 76 per cent in the first three months of 2014 at 530.
The data has been compiled by researchers at County Hall and gleaned mainly from the Land Registry.
Chris Pate, from Andrew Grant estate agents in Worcester, said: "Our own stats show significant increases in activity year-on-year - in fact from January to July sales across our offices were up 18 per cent in terms of volume.
"The market is turning a corner and although I think it's a gradual process, and we are still five per cent down on the peak nationally, I'd say it could be back at 2007 levels in around 12 months."
Paul Edgington, regional director at Connells estate agents, said: "The housing market is still dominated by home buyers searching for property.
"Because there aren’t enough homes on the market to satisfy this demand we are seeing fierce competition amongst buyers for homes coming onto the market."
The figures are driving activity at all levels of the market - the number of terraced homes sold in April, May and June across Worcestershire shot up 30 per cent year-on-year.
Worcester MP Robin Walker said: "The housing market had essentially stalled for a number of years so it's very good news all round.
"A healthy housing market is a good thing and I'd argue Worcestershire is still playing catch up, prices here have been well down on Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire but it's just as good a place to live.
"We don't want a situation like in London but we are way off that - a growing market means more people can move on, it helps everyone."
WE WERE THE LUCKY ONES, SAY WORCESTER FIRST-TIME BUYERS
THIS happy couple know just how hard getting on the property ladder can be - after finally being able to secure their first home via Help to Buy.
Carl Wilkins, 34, and 32-year-old fiancé Kate Robinson have just moved into a newly built three-bed house off Newtown Road in Ronkswood at the old hospital site.
The duo used the Government's £3.7 billion scheme, which allows potential buyers to get a mortgage with a five per cent deposit, to move onto Barratt Homes' Perry Wood Oaks development on Popert Drive.
Mr Wilkins, a civil servant, said even then it was a "huge financial commitment" because the soaring prices are so high.
He also says without using Help to Buy, they would have had to saved for at least another year before being able to consider buying.
He said: "This is the first home either Kate or I have bought as we have always rented so it is a huge financial commitment, but one which we are both happy about.
"We decided to use Help to Buy as it quickened the process of us buying a new home - without it we would have had to save for at least another year."
Mr Wilkins, who moved into the property in May, said they were "relieved" to have been able to buy.
"I'd been renting for 12 years - if you look back from the noughties to the (2008) recession a house was so many multiples of your income, frankly it was quite intimidating," he said.
"For us, taking on that level of debt was certainly a concern. But prices did come down, there was a better balance in terms of sensible mortgage products and we got quite lucky.
"I now think if I waited another couple of years we might not have been so fortunate."
The duo are now getting married after Mr Wilkins popped the question as soon as they moved in.