Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

We're still third dearest in the UK

Record-breaking property prices in Ulster could mean more people are forced to rent.

While the Nationwide Survey shows property prices going down, the province is still the third most expensive region in the UK.

Mr Chris Williamson, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations, has said with the average joint income of people in Northern Ireland at £30,947, home-owners are being stretched to the limit.

"With few houses costing less than £125,000 first-time buyers and those on a low income are being stretched further and further to afford home ownership," added Mr Williamson. "Consequently, more house-holds will either rent - private or social - for longer or look to Co-Ownership housing for assistance."

He added interest rate rises have resulted in less movement in the market, with warnings of another increase before Christmas.

And the changing market is a double-edged sword for housing associations, he said.

"On the negative they too may face higher repayments on the private loans used to part-finance new and existing homes," he said.

"However, on the positive, the slow-down in sales means housing associations will be in a stronger position to negotiate the purchase of much-needed housing and/or land," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Alan Crowe, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Co-Ownership Scheme, has described the market cool-down as a "welcome relief" to first-time buyers.

Mr Crowe said while the slow-down in house prices will enable many first-time buyers to compete in the property market, houses are still too expensive for most starting out.

First-time buyers are approaching Co-Owership in record numbers as their only option of getting onto the property ladder.

He said: "House-holders who thought they'd have to pay £1,000 a month to buy a home - money they couldn't afford to pay - are finding that they can purchase the same home for £700."

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