House prices up 2.5% in the European Union in first quarter of 2015

House prices increased by 0.9% in the euro area and by 2.5% in the European Union in the first quarter of 2015, according to the latest data to be published.

The figures from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, also show that compared with the first quarter of 2014 prices increased by 0.3% in the euro area and 0.6% in the EU.

But there is a huge difference between the fastest growing housing markets and those where prices are still falling.

The highest annual increases in house prices in the first quarter of 2015 were recorded in Ireland with growth of 16.8%, followed by Sweden at 11.6%, Hungary at 9.7% and the UK at 8.5%.

The largest annual fall in house prices was recorded in Latvia where prices are down 5.8%, followed by Italy down 3.3%, France down 1.6% and Slovenia down 1.4%.

On a quarterly basis the biggest growth was seen in Romania where prices increased by 4.1% compared with the fourth quarter of 2014, followed by Sweden with quarterly growth of 3.9%, Hungary up 3.7% and Denmark up 3.5%.

The largest quarterly house price falls were recorded in Belgium, Cyprus and Croatia with all three countries seeing growth down by 2.8%.

There is no data available for Greece or Poland so it is not possible to see how their property markets have been fairing.

An in depth look at some of the figures show how property markets, even in countries with strong price growth are wavering. Ireland may have the strongest annual growth but prices fell by 0.9% in the first quarter of 2015 compared with growth of 3.9% in the fourth quarter of 2014.

In Spain the market has been pretty stable. Prices are up 1.6% year on year and have been increasing steadily each quarter but this steady growth was halted in the first quarter of 2015 when prices dipped 0.5%. A similar pattern can be seen in neighbouring Portugal.

France has seen prices steadily falling and down 1.6% year on year in the first quarter of 2015, but this decline is down from the 2.2% annual fall recorded in the fourth quarter of 2014.

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