House prices getting stronger, but last thing NI needs is a boom

Morning View
Morning View

Ten years ago the Northern Ireland housing market was in the early stages of one of the worst housing crashes in recorded economic history.

House prices were beginning their plunge from a peak at the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007 and would continue to fall for more than five years.

The News Letter during the worst of downturn kept a ‘survey of the surveys’ on house prices.

By our calculations, overall prices fell between 55 and 60% from peak to trough. That means that a house that was worth £200,000 at the peak of the market on average fell to £90,000 or less.

A house that was worth £500,000 at the peak on average fell to £225,000 or less.

This was devastating for those young people who had been urged to get on the ladder and who borrowed in some cases more than five times their income, then to find that they had an asset worth a fraction of their debt.

Now, 10 years later, the housing market is much more buoyant.

Prices are well up on the lowest point, but still around 30% or more down from the previous peak.

No level of house prices will ever please everyone, but we now have a market in which those who want prices to be high (perhaps because of negative equity) are much happier than they were two or three years ago.

We also have a market in which those who want prices to be low (young buyers for example) can still afford to buy.

This is perhaps as good a compromise as society could hope for.

The current market is closer to a functioning, normal one.

In some areas prices are rising swiftly. That might please some people, but the last thing Northern Ireland needs is another boom.

It would just end in a fresh wave of bankruptcies and a new generation of people in negative equity.