Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Northern Ireland house prices continue to fall

Average house prices rose by half a per cent last month, new figures show

House prices in Northern Ireland continue to drop with hopes of a fragile summer recovery in the market having proved unfounded, according to new figures.

The average cost of a home is down 3.6% on last year to just under £139,000, the latest snapshot of the market recorded.

The University of Ulster Quarterly House Price Index showed that modest price rises noted in the second quarter of the year were not repeated in July, August and September - with costs falling 1.75% in the third quarter.

The survey, produced in partnership with Bank of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, showed some variation both in property type and location.

While the trend across most properties was generally one of declining value, particularly with apartments (down 22.7% on last year), both semi-detached bungalows and detached homes did increase in price over the last 12 months (up 16.1% and 9.3% respectively).

In terms of regional differences, the Belfast market continued to improve while the Enniskillen/Fermanagh/South Tyrone market rated as the least expensive.

Over the third quarter there was a relatively low total of 958 transactions.

The report found that 72% of sales were at or below £150,000.

In a joint statement, the authors of the report - Professor Alastair Adair, Professor Stanley McGreal and Dr David McIlhatton - said: "The results re-emphasise that recovery in the market is slow and, while there is some suggestion of improved price performance in parts of Northern Ireland and for certain property types, the overall weighted quarterly decline suggests that market sentiment is still to the downside."

Alan Bridle, UK economist at Bank of Ireland UK, said: "The UK and global economic backdrop for the housing market in general is likely to remain difficult, while all available evidence paints a more challenging picture for the Northern Ireland economy, especially for employment and consumer confidence.

"While there are some signs of encouragement, the reality in the short term is that local market conditions are likely to remain fairly subdued until there is a sustained improvement in the wider economic environment."

The Housing Executive's head of research, Joe Frey, said: "There is no doubt that the housing market will continue to remain subdued for the foreseeable future, due in particular to uncertainties in the labour market."

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