Belfast Telegraph

Bangor branded one of the UK's weakest house price performers as a new slowdown grips NI

By John Mulgrew

House prices grew at a slower rate in Northern Ireland than in almost any other UK region this year, new figures have shown.

Some areas, including Bangor in Co Down, actually saw house prices falling on average.

The cost of a home in Northern Ireland edged up by just 0.7% over the last year, taking the typical value to £129,385, according to Nationwide Building Society.

Across the UK average property values shot up by 4.5% in 2016, but for the first time since 2008 the rate of house price growth in London has ended the year below the national average.

The average UK house price stood at £205,898 in December, marking a 0.8% month-on-month increase.

Meanwhile, a separate report from Halifax showed the average cost of a home in Bangor actually fell by 1.7% during the course of the year, dropping to £154,613.

And Londonderry also saw prices slip slightly in 2016, falling by 0.4% to an average of £116,766.

Bangor, along with Inverness in Scotland and Blackpool in the north west of England, were identified among the places with the weakest house price performance.

Martin Ellis, a housing economist at Halifax, said: "Most of the areas that have seen the biggest house price rises during 2016 are either within close commuting distance of the capital or in outer London. Demand in these areas has risen as substantial property price rises in central London over the last few years have caused increasing numbers of people to seek property in more affordable areas.

"A few towns have experienced price falls, with the biggest in Aberdeen. On the north east coast of Scotland, it is highly dependent on the North Sea oil and gas sector.

"The substantial fall in oil prices in the past couple of years has hit the industry hard with adverse impact on demand for homes in the area. Price declines elsewhere have been modest."

According to Nationwide's survey, across the UK, East Anglia saw the strongest house price growth over the last year, with a 10.1% annual increase taking average property values there to £218,544.

The 4.5% annual increase in house prices across the UK recorded in December was the same as the uplift recorded during the same period last year.

In London, house prices have grown by 3.7% over the year, reaching £473,073 on average. Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said: "For the first year since 2008, annual house price growth in the capital was lower than the UK average, with prices increasing by 3.7% over the year, down from 12.2% in 2015.

"The South of England as a whole continued to see slightly stronger price growth than the North of England, though the differential narrowed. "Price growth in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland remained subdued, though each saw small gains overall in 2016."

House prices in Scotland have increased by 2.2% annually to reach £142,895 on average. Property values in Wales have lifted by 2.4% annually, taking the average price there to £146,049.

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