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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Revival in Cumbrian housing market boosting economy

A revival in the county’s housing market appears to be boosting the wider economy, and not only the construction sector.

Town and country photo
Roy Sweetman, Lee Osgood and Bill McIntosh, of Town & Country Interiors

New figures from the Land Registry show an average of 656 domestic property sales each month in Cumbria, between September and November, up from 511 in the same period of 2012.

The level of transactions was the highest for this quarter since 2007.

And there are signs that the fall in house prices may have halted – the average sale price in January was almost unchanged on January 2013 at £120,432.

Housebuilders such as Story Homes and Persimmon are stepping up construction of new homes in response to the rise in demand.

Meanwhile, Cumbrian Homes, based in Penrith, reports “significant growth in sales” over the past six months.

It is holding open days at its latest development, Howgill Skies at Sedbergh, this weekend and next.

A spokeswoman said: “The housing market has been particularly affected by the recession over the past six years.

“It was the first area to be affected by the credit crunch as banks curtailed their lending, making it more difficult for buyers to get a mortgage.”

Cumbrian Homes says that enquiry levels in the six months to January were two-and-a-half times higher times higher than in the same period of 2012-13. Sales in the autumn quarter were up 25 per cent on the year before.

The rise in property sales is having a knock-on benefits for businesses supplying furnishings and home improvements.

The kitchen and bathroom specialist Town & Country Interiors, in Victoria Viaduct, Carlisle, has just spent £25,000 extending its showroom into a former travel agent’s premises next door. Bill McIntosh, who set up the business in 1996 with Roy Sweetman, said: “There definitely seems to have been an upturn. We are a lot busier than we were.

“There is more house building and we’ve also noticed people building extensions rather than moving house.”

Most of Town & Country Interiors’ business comes from home owners but the firm recently fitted out 19 new properties at Thurstonfield for Carlisle developer Maris Properties.

The bigger showroom allows customers to see more of its bathroom range.

Mr Sweetman said: “The existing showroom had mainly kitchens to the fore with most of our other work at the rear more out of sight.

“The extension has enabled us to show off our bathroom ideas.”

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