House prices rose faster in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK in July 2015 compared to a year ago, official data has found.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the 7.4% hike meant an average property is now worth £154,000. But homes here remain valued at less than in any other region.
Prices went up by 5.6% year-on-year to £295,000 in England, 0.3% to £173,000 in Wales, but fell by 1.3% to £196,000 in Scotland.
Property in Northern Ireland dropped particularly sharply in the wake of the downturn, and prices are still catching up with those elsewhere.
Estate agent Paddy Turley, who is based at Ulster Property Sales in Belfast, said house price increases have been healthy.
“It will probably continue that way, with an increase in supply acting as an ultimate leveller for property prices,” he said.
Mr Turley added that there had been a slight slump in the local market over the last two months.
“July and August have been a bit flatter than earlier in the year,” he said. “It’s probably to do with a slight increase in supply of stock levels and property compared to this time last year when there was a real starvation of supply.
“Demand has remained strong so people haven’t been engaged in as many bidding situations as they were previously.
“If property is valued right and priced correctly – and that’s the important thing – then it should be moving within six to eight weeks, otherwise it’s not on at the right level.”
Last week the Belfast Telegraph exclusively revealed that more than one in 12 households here is in negative equity.
The shocking statistics showed that, in the past four years, the number of local homes where the mortgage is higher than the value of the property has risen from 44,000 in 2011 to more than 56,000 in 2015.
Regional breakdown of prices and percentage increase:
Northern Ireland: £154,000 (+7.4%)
NE England: £156,000 (-0.7%)
Wales: £173,000 (+0.3%)
NW England: £182,000 (+3.7%)
Yorks/Humber: £183,000 (+4.7%)
Scotland: £196,000 (-1.3%)
E Midlands: £197,000 (+5.0%)
W Midlands: £208,000 (+4.9%)
Caption: Property in Northern Ireland dropped particularly sharply in the wake of the downturn, and prices are still catching up with those elsewhere