THE gap between consumer confidence in the housing market in the North and South is at its narrowest since the beginning of the year, research claimed today.

The Woolwich said during September 65.4 per cent of southerners were expecting property prices to continue increasing during the next year, compared with 62.6pc of people in the North.

The gap in confidence of 2.8% is well down on the 10.2% difference at the beginning of the year.

Northerners are also now more confident than those in the Midlands, with 61.6% expecting the housing market boom to continue going forward.

The group put northerners' optimism down to the fact that price growth is still strong in the north, boosted by good levels of affordability, while in southern regions it is beginning to moderate.

Nationally 63% of people are expecting property prices to continue increasing, up slightly from 62% during August and the first increase in confidence for three months.

Andy Gray, head of lending at Woolwich, said: "Britons' confidence in the housing market is now being driven by the North.

"Northerners' confidence is catching up with their southern counterparts and is ahead of confidence in the Midlands for the first time this year.

"This suggests we are heading towards a more balanced housing market and while growth in the South may slow, rising confidence will boost activity in the North resulting in a nationally stable housing market."