House price growth slowed overall in the first quarter from 10.2% to 9.3% according to the latest report from Nationwide, putting the average price of a house nationally at £194,131 from £181,810 in the second quarter of the year.

Regionally, annual house price growth slowed in nine of Nationwide’s thirteen regions, indicating a general ongoing slowdown. Northern Ireland, however, tops the table for price inflation, showing growth of 42.6%, albeit down from 54% in quarter two. Second to Northern Ireland comes London, with growth of 16.5%, and Scotland comes third on 12.2%.

The north-south divide also continues to widen: house prices in the north of England as a whole increased by 5.2% in the past twelve months which is less than half of the 12% achieved in the south. The Midlands is the slowest moving area overall, with prices increasing only 0.2% over the past three months.

‘Looking ahead to the rest of the year, our forecasts still appear on track,’ said Chief Economist with Nationwide Fionnuala Earley. ‘Price growth in England is expected to continue to decelerate in the second half of 2007. In London this process will take somewhat longer, as the market still has some residual momentum and currently benefits from some supporting factors now present in the rest of the country,’ she continued.

Click here for a list of the five hottest and five coolest regional towns according to Nationwide.