by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Northern Ireland’s house prices have continued to rise, according to the latest RICS Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey. NI’s house price growth indicator has hit a five-year high and is now the highest in the UK.


Meanwhile, enquiries, sales and new instructions are also on the up.

A net balance of +75% of respondents in Northern Ireland saw an increase in new buyer enquiries over the month. However, the longer-term outlook is more cautious.

As buyer enquiries continued to rise, new instructions also saw a jump, with a net balance of +69% of survey participants in NI noting an increase in vendors listing property to sell.

Consequently, strong growth in agreed sales was cited for a second successive month, with a net balance of +63% of NI contributors seeing a pick-up. Looking ahead, near term sales expectations remain positive (a net balance of 44%), but 12-month sales projections are still in negative territory, with the net balance coming in at -9%. Anecdotal evidence suggests concerns over the broader economic climate continue to drive this subdued assessment.

Meanwhile, the pandemic is expected to cause a lasting shift in the desirability of certain property characteristics in the UK, as 83% of respondents anticipate demand increasing for homes with gardens over the next two years. 79% predict rising demand for those properties near green space, while and a net balance of +68% foresee a rise in the desirability of properties with more private / less communal outside space.

Turning to house prices, the August survey feedback points to an acceleration in house price inflation in Northern Ireland. A net balance of +79% of NI respondents reported an increase in prices, the strongest reading since 2015. This is up from a net balance of +20% in July and marks a dramatic turnaround compared to the reading of -42% registered back in May.

Samuel Dickey, RICS Northern Ireland Residential Property Spokesman, says: “‘The latest survey provides firm evidence of a strong uplift in activity in the NI housing market over recent months which should help support the wider economy. Less welcome for many is the pick-up in prices which could intensify issues around affordability, however this is less of an issue in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK. Meanwhile the results provide a further pointer to more substantive changes taking place in household behaviour in the wake of the pandemic. Increased demand for properties with gardens and near green spaces has if anything increased further.”

Terry Robb, Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank, said: “We know it has been an uncertain number of months for people wanting to own their own home or to move property. To help buyers, we have a range of competitive mortgage deals available as well as options for Co-Ownership mortgages which have been very popular. As a bank, we remain strongly committed to supporting people to buy their own home, to move house and to remortgage and will continue to lend in a responsible way that enables people to do so and supports market activity.”

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