by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Northern Ireland house prices are holding up, despite wider economic uncertainty, according to results of the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Northern Ireland Residential Market Survey for August.   Indeed, despite the number of newly agreed sales falling back in August and new buyer enquiries remaining subdued here, the balance of surveyors reporting rising prices over the past three months is higher in Northern Ireland than in all other UK regions.


 

The key factor in this appears to be the ongoing lack of supply, with the number of properties coming onto the market continuing to drop, according to respondents.

With regard to the outlook over the next three months, the balance of surveyors expects house prices to continue to edge upwards, but they are less confident about this than they were.

The short-term forecast for sales activity is also less optimistic. Indeed, the net balance for three-month sales expectations is now -12 percent, suggesting that surveyors expect sales volumes to decrease.

Anecdotally, respondents have noted uncertainty related to Brexit as a factor in the market and say that a potential no-deal scenario is prompting sellers to err on the side of caution.

However, the 12-month outlook is more positive, with surveyors predicting that prices will continue to rise over the year ahead and that sales activity will recover.

Samuel Dickey, RICS Residential Property Spokesman in Northern Ireland, said: “While the figures reflect the overall picture in Northern Ireland, we continue to find divergence at local levels and when considering different types of properties. Re-sales activity has fallen back but the new homes market is buoyant, with more developments incoming through the rest of the year. First time buyers continue to express strong interest in buying even against the current political landscape and as such the Northern Ireland housing market overall continues to outperform the rest of the UK.”

Terry Robb, Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank, said: “A range of indicators have been pointing to something of a slowdown in the local housing market. The latest NI House Price Index reported that average prices increased just 0.8 percent between Q1 and Q2 this year. However, despite this and the uncertain economic backdrop, the local housing market continues to perform relatively well compared to other UK regions. The fact that demand continues to outstrip supply locally is supporting prices and this is likely to continue to be the case.”

The main findings of the survey were:

  • The balance of respondents reporting an increase in house prices during the last 3 months continues to be the highest in the UK, with a net balance of 44% of surveyors indicating a rise
  • It is expected that in the near-term prices will continue to rise but at a slower rate, with a net balance of +8% of respondents forecasting a raise compared to +27% in July
  • Sales predictions for the next three months have fallen into negative figures, with a net balance of -12% suggesting they will decrease
  • New buyer enquires during August increased slightly (net balance of +5%), however the volume of properties coming onto the market experienced a sharp drop (from -7% to -25%).
  • A net balance of +66% of respondents in NI expect prices to continue increasing over the year ahead, with expectations for sales also returning to positive figures (net balance of +11%)

 

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RICS residential spokesman Sam Dickey

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