TYRONE house prices are still falling sharply, but the good news for house-hunters is that local homes are the most affordable in the UK, with the average price now slipping towards the five figure mark for the first time in more than eight years.
The average selling price of houses in County Tyrone fell by 9 percent over the past year to £100,853, the steepest drop in the UK.
Tyrone’s bargain house prices compare favourably with the cheapest homes in Wales at £142,575 in the South West, at £125,016 in Southern Scotland, and in England at £122,196 in North Lincolnshire.
The latest figures from the Nationwide House Price Index showed property values went down by 8.2% over the year across Northern Ireland. And the average house price is now £104,282, taking the market back to 2004 values.
Despite the continued price falls, estate agent John Minnis has claimed “we are at the bottom of the market”.
Belfast remains the most expensive place to buy a house.
It was a gloomy picture in the rest of the UK with prices falling nearly everywhere except London and the South West both of which had modest growth of 0.7% and 0.2% respectively.
Minnis, who has three branches in the province, described the latest report as ‘much more encouraging’.
“Overall in 2012, house prices saw very little change, taking the UK as a whole.
“Certainly in the areas in which our sales are focused we definitely have not experienced anything like an eight per cent decline.”
Mr Minnis said there is an appetite for home-ownership with the number of sales proving ‘encouraging’ for this year.
“I remain in no doubt that we are at the bottom of the market,” he added.
Richard McCulloch, an estate agent at Stanley Best in Magherafelt said Nationwide’s findings tallied with his own experience.
“Northern Ireland is certainly the worst-performing of all UK regions because our prices became so escalated that they had much further to fall.
“I would predict that there will be price falls in the next year, but I’d predict smaller price drops, probably of around 5% to 7%.”