While property prices around the country continue to fluctuate between the mildly alarming and the downright terrifying, there are many of us who would give our eye teeth for a resilient property in a reliable location.
A study from Lloyds TSB has found locations which hold their value far better than elsewhere in the country - and indeed have grown by an average of over £1,000 a month since 2001 - and they all have something in common. So what's the magic ingredient?
Apparently the silver bullet for property success is a spa. Lloyds TSB has been tracking property prices in 18 spa towns around the country and found that they consistently performed better than the UK average - and better than their surrounding areas - over the past decade.
ConsistentOwners of properties in the spa towns have seen the value of their home rise by nearly £130,000 over the past decade. The average house price in the 18 England and Wales spa towns rose by 88% to £275,397 in 2011 - equivalent to a monthly rise of £1,077. Between them they have outperformed the UK average by 12%. Some 89% of them also out-performed their immediate neighbours.
PremiumHome buyers have to spend £48,000 more on average, to live in a spa town. Homes in Ilkley, West Yorkshire currently command the highest premium, costing 96% more than their surrounding area. They are followed by Boston Spa with an 85% premium and Bath at a 53% premium.
Five spa towns have seen house prices more than double in the past decade. The largest increases were in Builth Wells (170%) and Llandrindod Wells (109%) - both in Powys in Mid Wales. Harrogate in North Yorkshire (107%) experienced the next biggest increase. At the other end of the spectrum, Epsom in Surrey (62%) and the north Worcestershire town of Droitwich (72%) recorded the smallest increases.
Epsom is the most expensive spa town with an average house price of £339,231; 23% higher than the average spa town house price (£275,397). Tunbridge Wells has the second highest average house price (£326,753).
The attractionsMartyn Baum, NEA Spokesperson and an Partner at Hartleys Estate Agents in Ashby de la Zouch, says: "Spa towns tend to be more desirable and resilient than elsewhere, and are seen by investors as safe money."
He points out that these are often historical market towns, with character properties, which hold natural attractions for buyers. In addition, he says: "Many of them are compact, which limits the supply of housing. And many are character properties, which means there's nothing else quite like them, so there is always interest when one comes onto the market."
Nicholas Leeming, business development director at Zoopla.co.uk, adds: "Attractive homes with plenty of 'curb appeal' provide a big draw for buyers, and the family friendly nature of these towns means that demand for larger, more expensive, homes keeps upward pressure on price.s"
"The desirability of many spa towns is increased by their proximity to some of the UK's most stunning countryside, however, they also tend to offer easy access to larger towns and cities which provide more amenities and transport links, allowing homeowners to enjoy rural life in eye-catching property without feeling cut-off."
Spa towns with the biggest rises over a decadeBuilth Wells 170%
Llandrindod Wells 109%
Boston Spa 103%
Church Stretton 92%
Tenbury Wells 89%