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House prices in NI surge at twice the pace of London

Former house of professional golfer Rory McIlroy

House prices in Northern Ireland surged at more than twice the pace of growth in London over the last year, official figures show.

Prices in Northern Ireland recorded an upswing of 10.5 per cent over the last year. Values in London have pushed up at less than half this rate, by 4.7 per cent, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The average price in Northern Ireland is £152,000, which is 43 per cent below the 2007 peak. The typical price in London is £503,000 - 40 per cent higher than the pre-downturn peak.

Property prices in Northern Ireland fell particularly sharply in the wake of the downturn, and still have some way to go to reach the levels they were at before the financial crisis, while prices in London are at record levels.

UK property values increased by 5.7 per cent in the year to May, up from 5.5 per cent in April.

The latest jump took the average property price across the country to £274,000 - equalling a cash peak seen in August last year. House prices are now 13.3 per cent higher than in January 2008, before the financial downturn set in, the ONS said.

On a month-on-month basis, values increased 0.9 per cent across the UK in May, following a 1.4 per cent dip in April.

In Scotland, prices have increased by 2.9 per cent over the last year, taking the average value to £193,000. Prices in Scotland are 6.6 per cent below a record level seen in March.

In Wales, prices have increased by 2.5 per cent year-on-year, pushing the average value to £170,000. The index for Wales is 2.4 per cent below a record level set in January.

The ONS figures also show that a typical first-time buyer faces paying 5.1 per cent more for a property than they did a year ago. The average price paid for a starter home in May was £211,000.

Housing market experts have said that ultra-low mortgage rates and the improving economy are helping to support demand, while a lack of supply of homes coming on to the market is adding to an upward pressure on house prices.

Roger Harding, director of communications, policy and campaigns at Shelter, said: "Whilst it's good to see the Government recognise the need to build more homes, they're only going to solve our housing crisis with reforms that build homes that people on lower incomes can actually afford."

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "We currently expect house prices to rise by 6 per cent in 2015 and there is an upside risk to this forecast coming from the current lack of properties coming on to the market. We currently see house prices rising by around 5 per cent in 2016.

"There are increasing signs that housing market activity is now on the up; and we suspect that housing market activity will continue to improve amid generally supportive fundamentals and reduced uncertainty following the decisive general election result."

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