Northern Ireland house prices up 9%, says ONS
House price growth picked up pace in June as surges in Northern Ireland and London offset the first fall in Scotland for nearly two years, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said UK average house prices rose by 5.7% in the year to June to hit £277,000, up from a rise of 5.6% in the year to May.
Prices rose by 6.1% year-on-year in England, 0.8% in Wales and 9% in Northern Ireland, but fell by 0.6% in Scotland - the first annual drop since September 2013.
On a month-by-month basis, average house prices across the UK rose by 0.4%, the ONS said.
Despite the leap in prices in Northern Ireland, the average property price in the region is still 43% below its level seen before the financial crisis, at £154,000 in June.
Property prices in Northern Ireland fell particularly sharply in the wake of the downturn, and are still catching up with those seen in other regions.
Figures revealed that the East and South East drove the gains in property values across England, with rises of 9.2% and 7.7% respectively.
London prices increased by 5.3% over the year to June, up from 4.9% in May, meaning that the capital has hit a new high of 43% above its pre-financial crisis peak.
The average home in London now costs more than half a million pounds - £513,000.
The ONS also revealed that first time buyers paid on average £213,000 in June, up 5.1% over the year.
Prices for second-hand homes rose 6% year-on-year in June to £321,000.
Housing charity Shelter said the average house price is now £12,000 more than this time last year and called for the Government to build more affordable homes.
Roger Harding, Shelter's director of campaigns, said: "A further rise in house prices means that for an entire generation, a home of their own is nothing but a pipe dream.
"From families trapped in expensive and insecure private renting, to young people stuck in their childhood bedrooms, a stable future is spiralling further and further out of reach for millions."
Richard Snook, senior economist at PricewaterhouseCoopers, added that more people will be forced to rent rather than buy as house prices are rising at twice the rate of average earnings.
He said: "By 2025 there will be more private renters than people owning a home with a mortgage."