Northern Ireland house prices rise again but still lower than UK average
House prices in Northern Ireland have increased again - bringing the average property value here up to £130,026, according to the latest official figures.
The price of houses here has gone up by 0.3% in the last quarter and 4.2% over the last year.
And 4,545 residential properties were sold during the first quarter of this year.
One property expert said the latest House Price Index showed that the market in Northern Ireland is in "good health".
Patrick Mullan, head of Mortgages at Danske Bank, described it as showing a "positive momentum in the market".
"This was reflected in Danske Bank's own figures, which showed a 35% uplift in new to bank mortgage lending in the first quarter when compared with a year ago, across all buyer types," he said.
"The first time buyer market, once again, demonstrated strong and sustained growth during the quarter with growth of 10%.
"There is clearly still some pent up demand, driving the first time buyer market, not to mention a lot of competition between lenders offering a wide choice of mortgage deals.
"There is also more housing stock becoming available, in part due to an encouraging upturn in new build activity."
The House Price Index, according to the report, is now 17.2% higher than in 2015.
The index for detached and apartments increased in the first three months of 2018 - 1.2% and 0.7% respectively - compared to the previous quarter while the index for semi-detached and terrace properties decreased - by 0.4% and 0.1%.
Six of the 11 district council areas also showed an increase over the quarter.
The cheapest area to purchase a house now is Derry City and Strabane at £112,000 while the most expensive is Lisburn and Castlereagh at £153,000 - up 3.5% from last year.
In Newry, Mourne and Down, the average price of a house is £137,948, up 6.6% from last year.
The average price of a house in Mid and East Antrim now stands at £122,541 - up 5% on last year.
In Mid Ulster, house prices are up by 7.8% from 2017. The average price there is now £133,294.
In Antrim and Newtownabbey, the price of the average house is £133,157 - an increase of 3% from last year - while in Ards and North Down it is £150,131 with an annual increase of 4.9%.
The average house price in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon now stands at £114,985 - an increase of 1% from last year.
Mr Mullan continued: "While we are still in a very low interest rate environment, I expect further growth in this market, as homeowners look for a good deal in the near term."
He added: "While the economic outlook is for steady rather than spectacular growth, this survey indicates the housing market in Northern Ireland is in good health.
"The NI market has enjoyed the strongest start to the year of any region of the UK but although prices are rising, affordability measures still compare favourably to the UK average, so there is capacity for further sustainable growth in NI this year."