Solihull tops a list of commuter-belt areas where house prices are rising so fast the capital gains made by homeowners who commute into work recovers their annual rail fare in days. That is according to property website Zoopla, which released analysis of its site's data and rail fares.
The annual rail fare to commute into nearby Birmingham from Solihull is £655. The area's average house price rose 10.7% to £341,470 in 2015, said Zoopla, a £34,695 gain. So in just seven days, the equivalent cost of rail travel was recouped by the rising value of an average Solihull property.
In second place is Surbiton on the outskirts of south-west London. The average house price also rose by 10.7%, or £57,813, to reach £567,250. With an annual rail fare of £1,800 to get into central London, it would have taken Surbiton's commuting homeowners 11 days to recover the cost in the value of their home.
Many rail fares are regulated in the UK and rise every year. On average, fares rose by 1.1% in January 2016, though some parts of the country saw bigger increases than others. Labour said its own analysis of fares since the Conservatives took control in 2010 showed rail season tickets had gone up, on average, by 25%. In cash terms, that is as much as £2,000 for some commuters. The government has committed to capping rail fare rises at the rate of inflation.
"Our research shows how much property prices have increased in certain popular commuter areas over the last 12 months and also highlights just how expensive commuter-belt living can be," said Lawrence Hall, a spokesman for Zoopla.
"As we'd expect, properties in key commuting areas continue to be in demand for buyers in competitive markets. While our research may soften the blow of increased rail fares for home owning commuters, the price rises we're seeing do make it harder for those looking to take their first step onto the property ladder."
The worst performing commuter area on Zoopla's list was Dunfermline near Edinburgh. The average property price is £166,015 after rising by £3,888 in 2015. The cost of an annual rail fare into Edinburgh from Dunfermline is £1,652, meaning it took 155 days to recover the cost through a rising house price.
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