Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Property price bubble is 'not about to burst'

Summer slowdown is only a blip as values are predicted to rise by 18%

Property experts have claimed that Northern Ireland's house price bubble is not about to burst.



And estate agents have denied the province's property price boom will result in a 'bust'.

Simon Brien, partner at the Eric Cairns Partnership, said: "The market is not going over the edge of the cliff - that will not happen."

Mr Brien said land prices are going up due to a lack of sites and this will have a knock-on effect on house prices. He also predicted house price growth of 18% in Belfast, with a rate of 12% in the rest of the province.

The most recent figures from the University of Ulster's House Price Index revealed another 12-months of record-breaking property prices - up 51%. The quarterly figures, based on sales until June this year, put the average house price at £240,408.

But during July and August, some estate agents reported a blip in the market, with houses not selling as quickly amid claims of prices down by seven per cent.

And with evidence of local investors opting to buy in places like Liverpool, with its affordable prices and higher rents, some experts claimed house prices would take a battering. Despite this, many estate agents maintain houses here are still selling for high prices.

Mr Brien added: "Whether it's city living or provincial towns, prices will not just nosedive. What we're seeing is a slowing market with more long term stability and rates of growth. Every property we put on the market we're selling - it may not be agreed in a week or two, but it is selling.

"These figures still outstrip the UK average," he said.

"Last year there was panic, but now people are taking their time and doing things properly and taking time to choose carefully."

Thomas O'Doherty, associate at the Eric Cairns Partnership, pointed to a significant sale at Saintfield Mill development, where 56 luxury homes were sold in one day.

"£14m worth of property was sold here with no advertising," Mr O'Doherty said.

"The demand for this scheme reinforces the confidence which buyers have in the market."

On the day of release buyers snapped up apartments, townhouses, semi-detached and detached houses at Saintfield Mill.

The prices, which ranged from £195,000 to £350,000, attracted first-time buyers and those down-sizing.

Meanwhile, Mr Brien said the housing market of the last 18-months was exceptional: "Everything was rising at rates not seen in the past 10 years."

He described the current market as "stabilising", and welcomed a period of more "healthy" house price growth.

He said the challenge for the industry is to provide more affordable homes.

"Builders are looking more carefully at housing mix, as first-time buyers don't necessarily want to live in an apartment," Mr Brien said.

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