Northern Ireland house prices cheapest in UK despite 8% price rise
The average house price in Northern Ireland is now £120,685 - an annual rise of 8.1%, according to Nationwide Building Society.
Although that rise outperformed the UK as a whole, which rose by 7.2% to bring the average price up to £188,559, houses in Northern Ireland remain the UK's cheapest.
The 8.1% rise for the fourth quarter of this year also signalled a slowing-down in the rate of increase - it was 10.2% in the previous three months.
In Belfast prices have soared by 17% since the fourth quarter of last year, with a typical price currently standing at £189,245.
The city was the strongest performing area in Northern Ireland.
Average prices here are still around 47% below their 2007 peak, according to Nationwide.
Outside Belfast, the north east showed the weakest performance over the year. The average price there is £127,299, the same as 10 years ago, although the rise since the final quarter of 2013 was 5%.
However, the west of the province remains the cheapest area to buy, where properties sell for an average of £117,197 - a significant annual rise of 14%.
Belfast closely trailed London, where prices rose 17.8% year on year. With properties there reaching £406,730, London is the most expensive place in the UK to buy a house, and was named top performer for price growth this year.
Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner believes recent changes to stamp duty may have a positive effect on demand here.
The much-criticised 'slab' structure was overhauled in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, and replaced with a graduated version.
Under it, home movers in Northern Ireland benefit from a significant reduction in the level of stamp duty they pay.
The duty payable for a typical home mover property, which is just above the threshold of £128,505, will fall from £1,285 to just £70.
Mr Gardner added: "The greatest impact is likely to be for home owners looking to buy property just above £250,000, who could save around £5,000 in tax."
All UK regions saw annual price rises in 2014 and the overall average price is £189,002, according to Nationwide's latest report. London was the top performer, with prices up 17.8% year-on-year. Wales was the weakest region, with prices up just 1.4%. Northern Ireland was the cheapest region to buy, with an average price of £120,685 - up 8.1%.