House sales solid but prices still below 2007 peak

The local market continues to operate at levels above the UK average
The local market continues to operate at levels above the UK average

Northern Ireland’s housing market is looking strong after more than five years of house price increases though prices remain below the 2007 peak according to the report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank.

Responding to the monthly residential market survey, a net balance of +48% of local surveyors said they’d seen price rises in the past three months while a net balance of +45% said they expected prices to rise in the next three months - the strongest figures in the UK.

Sales expectations data also remains the highest in the UK with a net balance of 58% of surveyors saying that they expected to see an increase in sales in the next three months.

A further 64% said they expected to see an increase in sales in the next year.

However, new instructions to sell fell according to a net balance of -11% once again citing a decline in the supply of fresh stock coming on to the market.

New buyer enquiries increased according to a net balance of +29% of respondents, bucking the trend across the rest of the UK where there has been a slightly more cautious approach from prospective property purchasers in the wake of the Bank of England’s decision to increase interest rates in August and continued broader political and economic uncertainty.

Newly agreed sales in Northern Ireland also increased at the highest rates in the UK in August, according to the survey.

“The latest survey suggests that sales trends are solid in Northern Ireland and surveyors expect the market to remain relatively strong despite some uncertainty,” said RICS residential property spokesman Samuel Dickey.

“Average prices in Northern Ireland though still remain well below their 2007 peak, unlike many other UK regions, which perhaps helps explain the continued upward trajectory of prices here.

“With new buyer enquiries continuing to see increases, it appears that recent interest rate rises have not impacted on buyer interest in Northern Ireland.”

Terry Robb, head of personal banking at Ulster Bank, said: “Northern Ireland’s housing market is continuing to display more positive sentiment than the UK average and that shows no sign of changing in the short term.

“Buying or moving home remains an attractive option for many people, as, despite rising prices, buying in Northern Ireland remains relatively very affordable. We see evidence that people have a strong desire to own their own home and are interested in re-mortgaging to move house.”