House prices have ended the year at another record high, reaching £196,999 on average across the UK in December, according to Nationwide Building Society’s index.
In Northern Ireland, prices increased by 6.5% annually, to reach around £128,481 the society said.
It noted that the gap between average house prices in the North of England and those in the South has also widened by £23,000 during 2015, as southern regions have continued to out-perform the rest of the country.
Across the whole of the UK, property values increased by 4.5% over the year to December, accelerating from annual growth of 3.7% recorded in November. December also saw prices increase by 0.8% month-on-month.
All regions across the UK apart from Scotland have seen house prices increase over the last year. Property values in Scotland recorded a 1.9% annual decrease, taking the average house price there to £139,801.
For the fifth year running, London has seen the strongest price growth, with a 12.2% annual increase in 2015 taking the average property value to £456,229.
Wales has seen average house prices edge up by 0.7% annually, pushing the typical value there to £142,622.
Yorkshire and Humberside was the weakest-performing region in England, with average house prices there up by 0.4% annually, taking them to £143,390.
Nationwide said that house price growth in southern England has been consistently outstripping that in the North for more than six and-a-half years.
House prices in southern England have increased by 8.9% annually, while those in the North have seen a 1.6% annual increase.
In cash terms, the gap in average prices between the South and the North of England now stands at nearly £159,000 - which is around £23,000 higher than a year ago, Nationwide said.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said he expects house prices to increase by 3% to 6% across the UK over the next 12 months.
He said a large part of the North/South difference in house price growth is likely to be due to a “strong relationship” between employment growth since the financial crisis and the rate of house price growth.