House sales up as enquiries and instructions rise

Samuel Dickey
Samuel Dickey

House sales activity in Northern Ireland rose last month at the fastest rate in over two years, according to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey.

Sales activity dropped in May following changes to stamp duty for second homes and again in the aftermath of June’s Brexit vote.

However, there has been a pick-up since September, according to the survey, with November recording the most widespread rise in sales since August 2014.

Prices also continued to edge upwards in November, according to respondents, whilst new buyer enquiries remained relatively robust – new buyer enquiries had also fallen in the aftermath of stamp duty changes and the EU Referendum but started to pick up again in September.

The report also notes an encouraging rise in the number of new homes coming onto the market in November.

Supply of houses has been a key issue in the housing market during the last couple of years.

Looking ahead, expectations for sales and price growth softened slightly, but surveyors still expect both to rise over the coming months.

“A key issue for the housing market has been the impact on transaction activity since the spring,” said RICS residential property spokesman, Samuel Dickey.

“But, there are signs that the numbers have been edging upwards in recent months, particularly in November, and may continue to do so into the New Year.

“However, the combination of macro uncertainty, the on-going supply shortfall - albeit there was a rise in instructions in November - and the myriad of tax changes impacting on buyers, suggest that any further pick-up in activity will be relatively modest in the short-term.”