House prices in the UK have risen considerably in the past year, according to the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The average rise seen in prices in the past year amounted to 7%. This covers the year going into October 2015. Average house prices vary in each country England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have very different average house price figures, as the new statistics have revealed. England is by far the highest of them all, with an average of £300,000 paid for a property at present. In contrast, Northern Ireland is at the bottom end of the scale. The average you could expect to pay for a property there is £158,000. Next on the list is Wales, where the average house price is sitting at £174,000. Finally, Scotland has an average figure of £196,000. This means the average figure for the UK is sitting at £287,000 overall. Obviously there will be significant differences depending not only on the country, but also on the specific area within that country. As expected, figures for London and the South East differ markedly to those elsewhere in England. How do these figures sit in terms of house price inflation in each area? While England has the highest average price at the moment, it does not have the biggest degree of inflation compared to other areas. That belongs to Northern Ireland, rather surprisingly. House price inflation there reached 10.3% in the past year. Welsh house prices only rose by around 1%, while Scottish house prices rose by slightly less than that, at 0.9%. Prices rising over a three-month period The ONS highlighted the fact that price growth for housing across the UK had now been on the rise across a three-month period. They considered this to be due to a shortage of available properties for sale. The supply-and-demand theory certainly seems to work in this case. There have been other surveys of the market released recently, and while they all differ in their figures, they all highlight a general rise in prices. Rising prices are good for those selling their properties, but not as encouraging for those looking to buy a bargain. However, statistics are also showing that mortgage lending is staying strong at present. Loans were up by 9% overall in October, and there was strong growth in terms of first-time buyers seeking mortgages as well. Indeed, with 29,900 mortgages granted to first-time buyers in October, this was the joint-highest figure seen since the middle of 2007, just before the beginnings of the recession and banking crisis took hold. As 2015 draws to a close, the housing market certainly looks to be finishing the year on a strong note. As things were decidedly sluggish earlier on in the year, this is an encouraging way to finish it off. Whether 2016 will start on a good note or not remains to be seen. However, all the signs appear to be promising at present.