Belfast Telegraph

New Belfast apartments could suit investors willing to take risk

By Margaret Canning

A British property investment company has announced new apartments in Belfast in the first residential project close to the city centre to break ground in recent years.

Oxford-based Property Frontiers  said the Sandford development of 30 “modern apartments” would make it “one of the most sought-after residences in the city for young professionals”. 

The apartments, which are being built by Cultra Developments, are aimed at investors — and Property Frontiers chief executive Ray Withers said some expats had already shown interest.

The brochure for the apartments describes their Bridge End location as “an up and coming area”.  Prices start at £114,750 for a one-bed apartment and £141,750 for a two-bed.

They are described as “strategically located close to the River Lagan, between the city centre, the Titanic Quarter, entertainment area and the Belfast Waterfront with its trendy restaurants and bars”.

Its brochure said “the Frontiers’ Collection at The Sandford will prove to highly desirable addition to the developing cityscape of Belfast.”

Dr Esmond Birnie, senior economist at the Ulster University economic policy centre, described the investment by Property Frontiers as a positive development.

 “Given the many uncertainties about the Northern Ireland economy at the moment, a willingness to make investments is welcome,” he said.

“Such developments could help promote some of the policy objectives for Belfast at the moment — increasing the size of Belfast’s population — particularly in terms of city centre living.”

But Jamesina Doble of Belfast wealth management company Johnston Campbell said she advised against investing in residential property. 

“When people are investing in residential property, the majority of them are borrowing to fund that. They are weighing up the chances of paying less in interest on the mortgage versus the chances of the property rising in capital value and delivering an income. 

“In 2008, property prices in Belfast fell by close to 30-40% and people had large mortgages to pay back. People may decide to borrow capital when bank base rates are low but my prediction is that in a recovering economy, rates are likely to rise.

“People are basing their future returns on today’s interest rates — so when rates go up, they will end up having to pay back more, and that is a big gamble.”

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