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Homes cost 4.5 times average salary

The average house in Northern Ireland costs around four-and-a-half times the average salary, new research reveals.

Property has become more affordable, finance minister Simon Hamilton said, following the price slump since 2007.

The average house cost £109,342 by late last year, with the most expensive in Castlereagh and the cheapest in Strabane, according to the Northern Ireland Residential Property Price Index.

Mr Hamilton said: “Today’s report shows that the relationship between sale prices and annual gross earnings continues to be well balanced.”

During the final three months of 2014 detached homes averaged £167,906, semis £108,212, terraces £74,185 and apartments £86,871.

The minister said the survey was reliable as it used data from Revenue and Customs and Land and Property Services.

The ratio of prices to salary increased slightly to 4.5 – so the cost of an average house in Northern Ireland is around four-and-a-half times the average annual salary.

Mr Hamilton said: “This confirms that Northern Ireland, with some increases in prices and greater market activity, is demonstrating an affordable and confident market.”

Residential property prices continue to show a small yet steady increase, up by 1% from the previous quarter, with an annual increase in 2014 of 8%.

The number of residential property sales in the last quarter of 2014 was the highest number recorded in any quarter since 2007. There was almost double the number of transactions in 2014 compared with 2010.

A separate government review has said a mortgage rescue scheme could be established in Northern Ireland to help borrowers at risk of losing their homes.

Around 32,000 households are expected to experience difficulties by 2018 due to negative equity following the price crash and spending a large chunk of income on servicing mortgages, according to a report commissioned by the Department for Social Development.

Funding for debt advice in Northern Ireland is set to increase by a third and services may be simplified to tackle the problem.

View this and more articles on the Belfast Telegraph.

Caption: The average house cost £109,342 by late last year, according to the Northern Ireland Residential Property Price Index