Belfast Telegraph

Estate agents pessimistic despite leap in house prices

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland house prices rose in July, but estate agents are pessimistic about the outlook for the market, according to a survey published today.

Ten years on from the beginnings of the credit crunch, local house prices remain around 40% below their 2007 peak, a study by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found.

The RICS and Ulster Bank residential market survey said prices and enquiries from prospective buyers rose during July, but members were less cheerful about expectations for prices and sales over the next few months.

A spokesman added: "This appears to be linked to a falling number of new properties coming onto the market, continuing to restrict supply, combined with some political and economic uncertainty."

RICS residential property spokesman Samuel Dickey said: "This week marks 10 years since the onset of the credit crunch, which was followed by Northern Ireland's property downturn.

"Ten years on, the market appears in reasonably good health, with prices edging up and evidence of good buyer interest, though average prices remain some 40% below their 2007 peak.

"Today, the key challenge for the market appears to be supply, along with some economic and political uncertainty."

Sean Murphy, managing director of personal banking at Ulster Bank, added: "The summer can be a quieter time of year for house-buying activity, but we continue to see a strong flow of mortgage interest and there is little indication that this will change significantly.

"Buying in Northern Ireland remains relatively affordable compared with other parts of the UK, and we see evidence that many people have a strong desire to own their own home."

Meanwhile, the Ulster University house price index this week claimed that house prices had fallen 3.7% year-on-year to an average of £148,499. In August 2007, the study recorded an average of £240,408.

The index, published in association with the Progressive Building Society and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, found that the second quarter of the year had seen the highest number of transactions - at 2,372 - since 2007.

However, the average house price had fallen by 3.7% year on year, and by 1.1% on the quarter before. A spokesman for Ulster University also said political and economic uncertainty were influencing the performance of the market.

There were strong variations between Northern Ireland areas, with Lisburn having the highest average price at £175,921, and Londonderry and Strabane the lowest at £118,627. Belfast's average house price was £154,980.

The separate Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency house price index for the second quarter is due to be published next week.

Belfast Telegraph

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