House prices rising fastest in England
House prices in England have risen considerably faster than in the rest of the UK in the last year, official figures show.
Property prices in England rose by 5.6% in the 12 months to the end of August, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
This was higher than a 2.9% rise in Northern Ireland, a 0.8% rise in Wales and a fall of 0.9% in Scotland.
The average price of a home in the UK rose to £284,000.
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Overall, the pace of UK house price rises was unchanged in August compared with July.
The annual rise in prices of 5.2% was still much faster than consumer prices in general, which were unchanged over the same period.
Richard Snook, senior economist at accountants PwC, said: "The figures show a robust housing market, providing further ammunition for those calling for an interest rate rise in the near term.
"With inflation likely to rise over the coming months as last winter's energy price decline drops out of the equation, we expect pressure to continue to build on the Monetary Policy Committee."
The ONS said that house prices were rising faster for owner-occupiers (up 5.8%) than they were for first-time buyers (up 3.8%).
Regionally, the fastest property price rise was seen in the East of England (up 8.8%), with Scotland registering the only fall in average prices.
|House price change - nations and regions|
|East of England||Up 8.8%|
|South East of England||Up 7.4%|
|South West of England||Up 6.1%|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||Up 4.8%|
|North West of England||Up 4.7%|
|West Midlands||Up 3.6%|
|East Midlands||Up 3.1%|
|North East of England||Up 2.9%|
|Northern Ireland||Up 2.9%|
|Source: ONS, August 2015|
Separate figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show that activity in the home loans market dipped in August compared with the previous month.
There were 62,300 mortgages approved for house purchases in the UK during the month.
This total was down 9.3% compared with July, but 1.5% higher than in August 2014.
Analysts said that there was generally a lull in activity during August as potential homebuyers took time out for summer holidays.