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Average Northern Ireland house price £125k, but weak supply hits sales

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland's average house price increased by 5.7% in the last year to £125,000, latest figures have shown.

But the UK house price index revealed a decline in the number of house sales here - down nearly 18% during the last three months of 2016.

There were 5,081 house sales at the end of last year, down from 6,163 on the same period a year earlier, according to the index by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Land Registry and other bodies.

Estate agent Richard McCulloch, whose firm has branches in Magherafelt and Belfast, said the findings of a 5.7% rise in prices mirrored his experience.

"There has definitely been an increase over the last year, based on the transactions we have seen, and that would be uniform across both offices," he said.

Mr McCulloch said buyers put off by the uncertainty following the vote to leave the EU were now taking action.

But he said a lack of supply was becoming a problem.

"We would find a house will go on the market and then there'll be two or three offers on it. It will go for over the asking price, which is great for the vendor and the estate, but not so good if it continues to put pressure on prices," he added.

"I would say we are seeing house price increases across all house types, but in the category of large detached homes, there is very little supply."

The average UK property value was £218,000 in January - £13,000 or 6.2% higher than it had been in January 2016.

The house price figure for Northern Ireland relates to the fourth quarter of 2016.

The report said UK house prices were continuing to see "strong growth", with average values up by 6.2% in the year to January and increasing by 0.8% month-on-month.

However, annual price growth is still below an average increase of 7.4% seen in 2016.

There are signs that "moderate demand" in the housing market is out-matching supply, the report added.

A first-time buyer in Britain faces paying 5.8% more for a home than they did a year ago, with the average property bought by this sector costing £183,295.

The main contribution to the increase in UK house prices generally came from England, where they increased by 6.5% over the year to January 2017.

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