Posted on Wednesday 15 April 2015 by Ulster Business
The recovery in the housing market in Northern Ireland has been rubber stamped by latest government figures which reveal a sharp hike in prices here in the last year.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) pegged the average price of a house at £152,000 at the end of February, a 14.2% jump on the previous year and is the largest rise in Northern Ireland since November 2007.
It's also the biggest jump in percentage terms of all UK regions over the period but prices here pale against other regions.
The UK average stands at £268,000, according to the ONS, while for England it reaches £280,000, in Scotland £194,000 and £170,000 in Wales.
Only the North East of England, with an average house price of £153,000, comes close to Northern Ireland.
Nevertheless, the recovery will be welcomed by property owners here, particularly those still coping with negative equity following the credit crunch and subsequent downturn since 2008.
Still, there’s a long way to go to lift everyone out of negative equity, particularly because Northern Ireland house prices are still 43% below their pre-downturn peak. That compares to the UK as a whole where prices are 11% above that peak.
Richard Ramsey, economist at Ulster Bank in Belfast, said growing demand was not the only factor pushing house prices higher.
“Lack of housing supply will continue to act as one of the key drivers for house price growth,” he said. “Last year there was some pick-up in house building activity but that compares to 2013 when it was at a 36-year low.”