Belfast Telegraph

Average cost of a house in Northern Ireland now stands at £118,000 as UK sees a price surge in last year

By John Mulgrew and PA

The average cost of a house in Northern Ireland now stands at £118,000 while the UK as a whole witnessed a price surge of more than 8% in the last year.

House prices increased strongly by £16,000 on average over the year to May, according to official government figures.

But experts warned the market is now at serious risk of a downturn.

Across the UK, the typical property value was £211,000 in May, marking an 8.1% increase compared with a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The average UK house price was £16,000 higher than in May 2015 and £2,400 higher than a month earlier, the ONS said.

The cost of a home in Northern Ireland now stands at £118,000. That's up from £117,500 in the first three months of this year, according to data from the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (Nisra).

But according to a separate study last month, Northern Ireland has finally stepped off the bottom rung of the UK property ladder in what can be seen as good news for homeowners.

Average house prices rose by 1.8% across the province from a year ago to £128,562, according to the latest house price index from Nationwide.

Meanwhile, according to the latest ONS report for May, the annual rate of house price growth was unchanged compared with April - "continuing the strong growth seen since the end of 2013".

The official figures show the state of the housing market before the EU referendum vote. Some other housing market reports, which have included data collected following the vote, have suggested the market is cooling.

Last week, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said the supply of homes coming on the market is plummeting at the sharpest rate on record going back to 1998.

It said interest from potential buyers was also fading at the fastest rate since 2008, while house price falls are increasingly taking a grip in London.

The ONS figures show that in May, the typical house price in England was £227,000, while in Wales it was £143,000.

And in Scotland the average stood at £141,000.

The local authority showing the largest annual growth in the year to May 2016 was Slough, where prices increased by 23.3% to stand at £287,000.

The most expensive borough to live in is Kensington and Chelsea, where the cost of an average house was £1.27m in May. Burnley is the cheapest place to buy a home, with the average property costing £69,000.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "The ONS house price data are for May, so were pre-Brexit vote.

"It also needs to be borne in mind that the ONS' measure of house price inflation lags many of the other measures as it is based on mortgage completions.

"Pretty solid fundamentals for house buyers - high employment, decent purchasing power and very low mortgage rates - remained a source of support for the housing market through to May, while a shortage of properties has also supported house prices."

Mr Archer said he suspected that house prices could fall back by 5% during the second half of 2016.

Andrew Bridges, managing director of London estate agent Stirling Ackroyd, said it is likely that house prices have already fallen to some extent in some parts of the country since the figures for May.

The percentage increase in the typical property value across the United Kingdom in May compared with a year earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Belfast Telegraph