Sentiment higher but sales expected to be flat

Samuel Dickey
Samuel Dickey

Sentiment in the Northern Ireland housing market improved during July but the market is expected to quieten into Autumn as enquiries actually fell during the month.

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

Following a marked downturn in the immediate aftermath of the EU vote, the July data indicates that price expectations and sales bounced back.

However, surveyors remain somewhat cautious about the outlook for sales, with respondents expecting sales activity to be broadly flat over the next three months.

New buyer enquiries actually fell over the month (a net balance of -8 percent), along with new instructions to sell (a net balance of -11 percent).

“Last month, we said that only when the initial shock of the referendum result passed would we get a clearer picture of how the market is really faring,” said RICS residential property spokesman, Samuel Dickey.

“One month on, sentiment has moved back somewhat. However, with some economic uncertainty remaining, it is not surprising if some will remain cautious.

“For now, there are fewer buyers and sellers in the market, which could create a more subdued sales picture, but, with supply already constrained, and fewer properties coming onto the market, prices are expected to edge up slightly.”

Sean Murphy, regional managing director for branch and private banking at Ulster Bank, said: “The imbalance between supply and demand in key population centres remains one of the main characteristics of the market.

“Unsurprisingly, there is uncertainty in the wider economy, as the Ulster Bank NI PMI highlighted earlier this week, and the housing market cannot be immune.

“However, with the Bank of England base rate now further reduced, mortgage rates are at a historic low.

“Our standard variable rate has been reduced in line with the Bank of England base rate reduction, and new or existing customers can take advantage of the some of the bank’s lowest mortgage rates on offer.”