House prices across the UK rose by 6.7% in 2015 to record levels, with the average home worth an extra £18,000 over the course of the year.
The biggest rise was in England (7.3%), fuelled by rises of nearly 10% in the east of England and 9.4% in London. Prices in Northern Ireland and Wales were up by 1.5% and 1% respectively, while Scotland recorded a small fall.
The overall rate of growth was lower than that recorded in 2014, but the Office for National Statistics figures show that the average house price in the UK stood at £288,000 at the end of 2015.
Despite the annual rise, however, there was a slight fall in average prices during the last month of the year.
“After a year of breathless acceleration, house-price growth strolled rather than sprinted across the finishing line at the end of 2015,” said Jonathan Hopper, of Garrington Property Finders.
“Annual rates of price inflation fell back below double digits in the two regions where prices grew fastest – East Anglia and London – but this is an easing rather than an end to an overwhelmingly upward trend in the south of the country.”
Mark Posniak, of Dragonfly Property Finance, said: “The patchwork nature of the UK’s property market couldn’t be more apparent.
“They may be geographical neighbours, but England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland could be in different time zones when it comes to their property markets.
“The patchwork nature of the property market continues at the regional level. Within England, London, the East and the South-East are in a different league from other areas of the country.
“Although average UK prices may have dipped slightly in December, further price rises throughout 2016 are almost certain.”
Rob Weaver, of Property Partner, added: “Despite a softening at the tail end of last year, house prices are still at a record high level in the UK. And price growth looks set to continue, particularly in the first quarter of 2016.
“Investors are acutely aware of the looming financial pain post-April when the stamp duty hike on all second homes and buy-to-lets comes in.
“The inevitable rush to snap up properties before the deadline is likely to spell even higher house price inflation, particularly in hotspots like London, the South East and East.”