Northern Ireland Is the Strongest Region

Northern Ireland Is the Strongest Region

The Nationwide House Price Index found that Northern Ireland is the strongest performing region, while London remains the weakest because of its falling house prices. Northern Ireland saw acceleration in growth in the first quarter, with annual price growth accelerating from 2.0% to 7.9%.

“UK house price growth remained broadly stable in March at 2.1%, little changed from the 2.2% recorded the previous month. House prices fell by 0.2% over the month, after taking account of seasonal factors,” said Robert Gardner, Nationwide chief economist.

“On the surface, the relatively subdued pace of house price growth appears at odds with recent healthy rates of employment growth, a modest pick-up in wage growth and historically low borrowing costs. However, consumer confidence has remained subdued, due to the ongoing squeeze on household finances as wage growth continues to lag behind increases in the cost of living,” he added.

Wales saw a pick-up in annual house price growth, from 3.3% in the year to Q4 2017 to 6.1% in Q1 2018, while conditions remained more subdued in Scotland, where prices were essentially unchanged compared with a year ago.

The region with the strongest price growth among the English regions is West Midlands, with prices going up by 4.9% year on year. London continued to experience modest annual price declines, with average house prices down 1% compared with a year ago. Overall, average house prices in England increased by 0.9% in the first quarter of 2018 and were up 1.9% year-on-year.

“The first quarter has been typically sluggish – typically a period when buyers and sellers contemplate their next move,” said Jeff Knight, director of marketing at Foundation Home Loans. “While there is talk of a cooling London market and narrowing north-south price divide, let’s look at the bigger picture: prices are holding and, particularly for those first-time buyers, affordability remains an issue. Even with those benefiting from stamp duty cuts and low mortgage rates, the lack of supply remains the nagging problem.”

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