Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Northern Ireland property prices fall 'the worst in the UK'

Northern Ireland house prices have fallen sharply by almost a tenth over the past year — the greatest drop in the UK.

And Belfast has also been ranked as the worst performing city in the UK, with prices down by 14% in the past 12 months.

The Nationwide House Price Index paints a stark picture of the difficulties facing the market.

According to its figures, the average property price in Northern Ireland now stands at £107,719.

That figure signals a 9.3% downturn since this time last year — and a 2.3% drop in the last three months — the fifth quarterly drop in succession.

Nationwide said the biggest fall was recorded in Belfast which has seen the price fall by 14% when looking at figures for this time last year.

Belfast tops the table as the worst performing city in the UK — followed by Manchester, down 11%, Bradford, down 9%, York, down 6% and Carlisle, down 5%.

The city is still the most expensive place in Northern Ireland to buy a house with the average price standing at £148,420.

Nationwide says the cheapest homes are to be found in counties Tyrone and Fermanagh with an average price of £105,719 — also down by 10% over the quarter.

Homes in counties Antrim and Londonderry have dropped by 11% (quarterly figure) to £118,955 on average, and in Co Down falling by 9% (to £132,226).

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said prices have now plummeted by 53% since the property market peak in 2007.

But affordability levels are now good. Mr Gardner added: “Northern Ireland is now the most affordable place in the UK on a house price to earnings ratio basis, at 2.9, when it used to be the least affordable, with prices more than nine times earnings at the peak.”

Keith Mitchell of Belfast estate agent Templeton Robinson said: “It is well documented and reported that houses prices increased 50% plus in the boom and fell by the same amount from the middle of 2007 to the Autumn global credit crisis of 2008. The reality is that it has taken the past five years for some people and lenders to accept this. The delay in doing so is prolonging our agony in moving on, with many financial institutions drip-feeding assets off their balance sheets over a long, slow period.”

He added, however that house sales overall are improving with buyers responding positively to increased affordability.

“Interestingly, market appetite is strong with over 600 offers taken on realistically-priced property on our books from May to August and another 5,594 viewings during the same period,” said Mr Mitchell.

He also claimed the combination of rising rents and a housing supply unable to meet demand, with renting in some cases more expensive than buying, was encouraging more people to consider home ownership.

Factfile

Northern Ireland average — £107,719

Annual change — down 9.3%

Quarterly change — down 2.3%

Worst performing cities (over a year): 1. Belfast (down 14% to £148,420)

2. Manchester (11% to £174,577)

3. Bradford (9% to £146,726)

4. York (6% to £209,364)

5. Carlisle (5% to £136,941)

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