House prices pick up but sales and interest stall

New instructions to sell have risen, albeit from a low base says the report
New instructions to sell have risen, albeit from a low base says the report

Houses prices in the province saw the strongest growth across the UK in the first quarter of the year, though newly agreed sales and demand for property in the form of new buyer enquiries both trailed off in the same period.

The figures come in the latest Residential Market Survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank.

The number of surveyors saying that prices had risen in Northern Ireland in the past three months was the highest in the UK and expectations for prices also remain positive but outlook around sales is flat, according to respondents.

New instructions to sell saw an increase in March indicating that the number of people putting their properties on the market edge upwards, however this comes off a low base

“There is continued upward pressure on prices with the lack of supply a factor, albeit that there has been a modest pick-up in but the number of properties coming onto the market,” said RICS residential property spokesman, Samuel Dickey.

“For the second month in a row, the survey indicates that there has been a dip in new buyer enquiries, but this is likely, at least to some extent, to reflect the particularly bad weather we had in March.”

Against that, he said the uncertain economic and political environment could be causing people to hold back.

“But whilst sales expectations for the next three months are flat, price expectations remain positive, which indicates that surveyors think prices will continue to edge upwards,” he added.

Over the next 12 months there was “a reasonable amount of confidence” in an increase in sales and prices”.

Sean Murphy, MD for personal banking at the Ulster said: “The first quarter of the year has probably been a stronger one for the housing market than some had predicted, as it has been for the economy as a whole, and we have seen good mortgage demand as a result. It’s positive news for those who are seeking to buy or move home that surveyors are experiencing more properties coming onto the market, and with better weather later spring we would anticipate an uplift in mortgage applications.”