House prices in the West Midlands have risen by only 1.8 per cent over the past year, less than in any other part of the UK, except northern England.
Nationwide said the rise between the first and second quarters of this accounted for just 0.3 per cent of that, while prices rose by 0.9 per cent across the UK as a whole.
These regional details were p ublished yesterday by Nationwide as the rival Halifax house price index reported a 1.2 per cent fall in national house prices during June.
That lowered the increase during the second quarter of 2006 to 2.6 per cent, although year on year the Halifax index shows house price inflation of 9.4 per cent.
In the West Midlands, Halifax said house prices rose 2.1 per cent between the end of March and June and 7.1 per cent over the second quarter of last year. That took the aver-age price in the region to £169,509, compared with £177,962 across the UK.
The gap between West Midlands house prices and those i n greater London has narrowed markedly, Halifax figures show. London prices are now 1.56 times those for a similar home in the West Midlands. Five years ago the London price was double that in the region.
A breakdown of Nation-wide's findings shows that prices for cheaper homes have been rising much faster than those at the middle or top end of the market.
Terraced houses in the West Midlands now cost 5.5 per cent more than they did a year ago, averaging £127,112, while f lats, at an average of £104,3067, are five per cent dearer.
But the average price for a detached house has risen by only 0.3 per cent to £220,662 a nd semis have barely changed at £150,599.
A similar pattern, attributed to "affordability" by Nationwide's economist Fionnuala Earley, appears in some sub-regional price changes tracked by the building society.
Coventry, which had the cheapest homes in the West Midlands a year ago, has seen its average price rise by seven per cent to £162,174.
"Warwickshire is still the most expensive place to live in the West Midlands," Ms Earley said. "At £188,429 the price of a property in Warwickshire is 16 per cent higher than Coventry."
Prices in greater Birmingham have stayed unchanged for a year at an average of £165,153.
"Of the local authorities in the West Midlands, Telford and Wrekin the the Shrop-shire sub-region saw the fastest house-price growth at 12 per cent," Ms Earley added.
"In contrast, Solihull, where the average price is over £200,000, prices fell by six per cent over the year, after a fall of five per cent in the year to the first quarter. However, this time last year prices in Solihull were rising at an annual rate of seven per cent."
Halifax said house prices rose in all UK regions during the second quarter, with the exception of Wales. The biggest rises were in Scotland at 5.7 per cent, the southwest at 3.8 per cent, and East Anglia at 3.5 per cent.
The smallest were in northwest, at 0.2 per cent and the north at 0.9 per cent.
Martin Ellis, Halifax's chief economist, said that although the housing market remains in good health, he expects the annual rate of house price inflation to ease, partly because comparative rises in the second half of last year were strong.
"Increases in utility bills and above-inflation council tax rises are putting pressure on householders' finances, with the majority of the impact of these increases yet to be felt," he said.
"Recent upward movement in the pricing of fixed-rate mortgages and mounting speculation of higher interest rates are also likely to constrain demand. Additionally, the on-going historically high level of house prices relative to average earnings will curb housing demand."