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THE north recorded the high annual house price increase in the UK at the end of 2018, according to new figures.

Northern Ireland was the strongest performer in the latest Nationwide Building Society index, with average house prices in the final quarter of the year up 5.8 per cent annually to £139,599.

The unparalleled growth in the north was in contrast to the overall picture in the UK, where the weakest annual growth was recorded in almost six years.

The 0.5 per cent increase to an average of £212,281 in December was the weakest since February 2013. That figure was also down 0.7 per cent month-on-month.

In London, the average house price in the fourth quarter of 2018 was £466,988 – 0.8 per cent lower than the same period in 2017.

The strong growth in Northern Ireland was followed by Wales and the east midlands, where prices lifted by 4 per cent annually to £156,891 and £184,283 respectively.

In Scotland prices grew by 0.9 per cent over the same period to an average of £147,856

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist said UK house price growth slowed noticeably as 2018 drew to a close.

“It is likely that the recent slowdown is attributable to the impact of the uncertain economic outlook on buyer sentiment, given that it has occurred against a backdrop of solid employment growth, stronger wage growth and continued low borrowing costs,” he said.

“Near term prospects will be heavily dependent on how quickly this uncertainty lifts, but ultimately the outlook for the housing market and house prices will be determined by the performance of the wider economy – especially the labour market.”

“The economic outlook is unusually uncertain. However, if the economy continues to grow at a modest pace, with the unemployment rate and borrowing costs remaining close to current levels, we would expect UK house prices to rise at a low single-digit pace in 2019,” Mr Gardner added.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club believes the housing market ended 2018 “very much on the back foot”.

“Brexit and economic uncertainty may well have an increased dampening on housing market activity in the near term at least.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said the figures are a wake-up call for the housing market.

“After steady progress, without much change one way or the other, prices have experienced a nasty bump.”

“Looking forward, this is always a fairly quiet time anyway for the market so the reasonable start we have had to business won’t be seen in the figures for at least the next month or so,” he added.

Source: Irish News

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