Downside costs of housing price surge
Published 11/06/2007 | 08:30
It's been the topic of conversation around many a dinner party for some time now.
"Can you guess how much this house is worth?"
"Have you heard the asking price for No. 3 on the corner?"
"This place has doubled in value in the last three years!"
It's natural that people have been caught up in the excitement of Northern Ireland's unprecedented property market boom.
But it's becoming increasingly clear the explosion has come at a major price.
Today, the Belfast Telegraph begins a special series on the problems that have been created - the dark side of the boom.
This will include the fact that young people have been priced out of the market.
The face of many districts is being permanently changed, too, as developers replace long-standing properties with apartment blocks.
It began with seaside towns and villages, but is rapidly spreading through urban areas across the province.
Public authorities are, meanwhile coming under pressure, not least in the housing and planning fields.
There are also worrying signs that more mortgage holders are facing financial difficulties - the number of actions for repossessions has jumped significantly.
In 2004/2005, there were a total of 2,188 actions for repossession.
By 2005/2006 this had jumped to 2,614, a 19% increase on 2004/2005 and the highest figure recorded since the early 1990s when the last major housing market downturn took place. It should be noted that the vast majority of actions for possession do not lead to actual repossession of the dwelling, as court action normally prompts owners to take steps to tackle their problem. But the figures are, nevertheless, yet another cause for concern.