Belfast Telegraph

Mortgages on the up, but shortage of homes in Northern Ireland a concern

By Margaret Canning

The value of loans to home-movers in Northern Ireland was up 50% to £180m over the third quarter of this year, according to figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

And there were 1,500 loans to home-movers in the province, according to the CML - an increase of more than one third on the same period in 2013.

Loans to first-time buyers, the first part of the market to show recovery around 18 months ago, were also up by a quarter to 2,000. They borrowed £170m - up just over 40% on the second quarter last year.

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the data was encouraging but that supply could become a problem.

"The latest CML figures provide further evidence that Northern Ireland's housing market recovery has maintained robust momentum going into Q4.

"Whilst this is encouraging, the economy needs to see this recovery broaden out into a significant pick-up in house-building.

"Otherwise the lack of supply will put upward pressure on prices and impact on affordability."

Last week's government's residential property price index for the third quarter said there was a 7% increase in average prices in quarter three, compared to the same period last year.

The separate Ulster University survey of estate agents quoted an average house price of £141,173 - up 5.2% on last year.

Mr Ramsey said the CML figures also showed that recovery was no longer restricted to just the first rung of the ladder.

"It's encouraging that the home-mover market is now starting to post significant gains as it has lagged the first-time buyer market for quite some time.

"Despite this growth, however, the volume of home-mover market remains at very low levels."

However, despite the growth in home-movers and first-time buyers, remortgage lending was down 8% to 1,100 loans.

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