Senior Director, Head of Regional Agency - South & East
With a bustling, friendly vibe, market towns are sought-after places to live. We look at the most popular towns where house prices are soaring.
Homebuyers who want to live in England’s favourite market towns will pay a premium of up to 17 per cent, according to recent research from Lloyds Bank. While house prices in English market towns have increased by almost a quarter over the past decade, some areas have seen growth of more than 60 per cent.
Why have prices in market towns soared?
Market towns were historically countryside hubs, attracting farmers and tradesmen from surrounding areas to sell their livestock and wares. You may no longer see cattle traipsing the streets, but the market street or square is still the heart of market towns today.
Offering an attractive blend of historical character, period buildings and the conveniences of modern-day life, market towns appeal to people who want to live in the countryside but with easy access to shops, good schools and culture.
As house prices shoot up, many families are choosing to move to further out of the cities. Market towns in the surrounding countryside offer fast rail connections into major cities and have a strong community feel which may be absent in the sprawling suburbs.
England’s booming market towns
With a 40-minute commute to London and the Chiltern Hills on its doorstep, Beaconsfield is one of the most popular – and expensive – market towns in the country. Homes in Beaconsfield cost on average £645,000 more than the rest of Buckinghamshire. Its Old Town contains many period properties, including this extended two-bedroom character cottage dating from the 1800s.
Dominated by its ruined Norman castle, the traditional market town of Lewes feels a million miles away from the bustle of London. But with direct trains into the capital, its popularity and house prices have grown in the last ten years. Its stunning period town houses, medieval streets and small, independent retailers offer a happy medium between life in the city and countryside living.
The most popular market towns across Britain
While market towns in the home counties have seen the greatest growth, the housing market in many market towns has been steadily on the rise. Here are some of our favourite towns in other parts of the country.
In the Lincolnshire town of Stamford, house prices are up 6 per cent on last year, with house prices 60 per cent higher than the surrounding county. But you can still find stunning period properties, such as this six-bedroom Georgian work of art, for a fraction of what you’d pay in London.
The Harrogate district of Yorkshire has several unique historical market towns, including Ripon, Knaresborough and Harrogate itself. Medieval castles and gothic cathedrals tower above thriving high streets in these popular towns situated near the cities of York and Leeds.
Last year, Scotland saw its highest year-on-year house price growth since April 2008, with property values growing at six times the rate of those in England and Wales. Many of Scotland’s towns are pretty enough to rival the most popular English market towns, with the added benefit of the dramatic Scottish countryside on your doorstep.
Haddington, in East Lothian, still holds a monthly farmer’s market and is within commuting distance of Edinburgh. Further north, the pretty coastal town of Dornoch has period properties, excellent local services and a championship golf course. And for those really looking to escape the hum of the city, Plockton, “The Jewel of the Highlands”, is regularly voted one of Scotland’s most picturesque harbour towns.