Belfast Telegraph

Political worries blamed for drop in average house price to under £149k

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland's average house price has fallen nearly 4% year on year to reach £148,499 as political uncertainty at home and concerns over Brexit drag on, according to Ulster University research.

But the quarterly house price index, produced in association with the Progressive Building Society and the Housing Executive, also said the number of transactions between April and June was the highest since the property crash of 2007 at 2,372.

On a quarterly basis, there had been a 1.1% fall in average house prices since the first quarter.

And the high number of deals over the second quarter reflected the "seasonality" of the market with many people moving house during spring and early summer.

There were strong variations between Northern Ireland regions, with Lisburn having the highest average price at £175,921, while Londonderry and Strabane had the lowest at £118,627.

Belfast's average house price was £154,980.

A spokesman for Ulster University said there was a combination of factors at play in the 3.7% fall year-on-year.

"Uncertainty from Brexit, the outcomes of the UK general election, the present lack of agreement on the formation of the NI Executive, slower growth rates in the national and local economy and a number of pessimistic economic forecasts over the short to medium term are all recorded as contributing factors," he said.

Professor Stanley McGreal, lead researcher at the university, said: "This latest survey has mixed messages regarding the health of the Northern Ireland housing market - transaction levels are high suggesting a strong market in the second quarter of 2017, however, this optimism is not reflected in average prices which are generally more subdued."

But estate agent John Minnis, whose practice sells homes around NI with a focus on north Down and east Belfast, said: "On a quarterly basis a fall in house prices of 1.1% is not great, when you consider the global and local political uncertainty over Brexit, the general elections and the lack of a Stormont government.

"People may allow themselves to be affected by it all but ultimately, they still have to move house because their families are growing, or for whatever reasons."

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland housing bulletin from the Department for Communities has shown a year-on-year increase of 16.2% in the number of new dwelling starts to 1,883 over the first quarter.

But the number of new dwellings completed was down 1.1% year-on-year to 1,482.

And there were 5,242 households who told the department they were homeless, up 34.7% on the previous quarter.

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