Property prices in the Highlands grew faster than in any other Scottish region during 2004, new figures from the Bank of Scotland have revealed.

Thanks to growing numbers of ?incomers? from other parts of the UK who seek to buy property in the remote and picturesque towns and rural areas of the Highlands, property prices were pushed up by 37% last year, the figures showed. The average property price in the region now stands at £130,749.

The Scottish property market performed well over 2004. For the first time no Scottish region had an average house price below the £100,000 mark, with the bottom six of the nine Scottish regions pushing through this barrier over the year.

The UK county with the strongest price growth, according to the figures, was County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. In 2003, County Fermanagh had the lowest average property price in the UK at £79,962. However, prices in the region increased by a formidable 39% over the year, and the average property price now stands at over £111,000.

Although it experienced the lowest price growth last year, Lothian remains at the top of Scotland?s property league, with an average property price of £161,095 at the end of 2004. However, Lothian?s prices are still a long way off those of the most expensive county in the UK, Surrey, whose average property price now stands at £345,895.

Commenting on the figures, Tim Crawford, Group Economist, said: ?The Highlands had the strongest house price growth of any region in Scotland in the past year and it was also the second best performing area in the UK. Clearly buyers have been attracted to the combination of city and rural living that the region offers.?