AVERAGE house prices in towns in north Cumbria have dropped over the past few months as the top end of the market cools, following the soaring prices seen last year.

According to data from the property website Zoopla, house values have fallen by more than £5,000 over the past 3 months in the wider Cumbria county area - even as they remain above the average figure from a year ago.

Some areas including Whitehaven, Keswick, Carlisle and Workington however are now seeing lower average house values than 12 months ago, according to Zoopla.

Nationally, August has seen the national average house price fall £1,076 (-0.3 percent), the first price drop recorded in 2021, according to property website Rightmove.

Rightmove puts the drop down to a cooling of the "upper-end four-bedroom-plus sector", which is down by £4,699 in the month, with buyers no longer making stamp duty savings.

However, sales of first-time buyer properties and "second-stepper" properties are both up.

Rightmove's analysis is reflected at a local level, according to Kerry Doree of agents Northwood Carlisle, who said that recent market activity has been driven by first-time buyers.

"The market is still very busy, demand is still very high but there's not as many properties coming onto the market," she said, adding that the market for flats has "slowed down" following the priority shift that Covid has prompted in many buyers.

In terms of rentals, Kerry said that the sector is also very busy and demand is high in Carlisle. "Demand is so high - they're on and they're gone so quickly."

Rightmove predicts that there will be an "autumn bounce" in both seller activity and prices. In the first week of August, individual buyer enquiries to agents are up by 56 percent on the same period in the pre-Covid year of 2019.

The shifts in property values are ultimately all relative. Over the long term, Zoopla data indicates that house values in Cumbria have gone up by more than £130,000 over the past 20 years.