Housing market to start 2017 in ‘growth mode’

Anticipation of a rise in both prices and the number of sales in 2017
Anticipation of a rise in both prices and the number of sales in 2017

House sales are expected to pick up across the province over the first three months of the year after levelling off in December according to the latest market report.

The data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey shows the headline price balance was +38, meaning that 38% more surveyors said that prices rose in the past three months than those who said they fell.

The price expectations balance at +25, remains in positive territory for the sixth consecutive month, while sales expectations data (+25) remains healthy.

But supply remains the key concern, with instructions to sell broadly flat in December, meaning that the measure capturing new stock coming to the market has failed to show growth in four of the past six months.

The new buyer enquiries balance was positive for the fourth month in succession at +15 while the new instructions balance was flat (+1).

“RICS has forecast that house prices in the UK will rise by around 3% this year, and we anticipate a not dissimilar growth trajectory in Northern Ireland,” said RICS Residential Property spokesman Samuel Dickey.

“I think 2017 will be a year of economic challenges, linked to political events, but the fact that supply isn’t currently meeting demand should lead to prices edging upwards, while transaction activity in 2017 is expected to be stable.”

Sean Murphy, managing director for branch banking at Ulster Bank, said: “2016 saw events of considerable significance for the housing market, including the changes in stamp duty and the EU Referendum, which combined to impact on confidence and activity in the middle of the year.

“The Northern Ireland housing market, however, enters 2017 with the anticipation of growth in both prices and transactions, and our own expectation at Ulster Bank is for strong mortgage demand, with the ongoing a very low interest rate environment and peoples’ desire to own their own home.”