Belfast's first queue for new homes in nine years - throwback to property boom with first batch of houses sold instantly
House-hunters queued throughout the day to snap up luxury homes in scenes which were a throwback to the height of the property boom.
People gathered from 5am as the first batch of properties in the sought-after Belvoir Park development in south Belfast went on sale.
Around 300 homes - priced between £245,000 and £410,000 - have been built on the site of the old hospital.
The first 27 were released on to the market at 5pm yesterday - and quickly sold.
Such was the interest that prospective buyers had queued for up to 12 hours to get their hands on one.
Simon Brien, the agent for the development, said interest had been immense.
"We had an online registration system, and 550 people pre-registered to get information and be kept advised of the release details. That is unprecedented for the last eight years," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
About a dozen people were in the queue by lunchtime yesterday.
Some clutched cups of tea as they waited patiently in the April sunshine.
Behind them, painters were applying finishing touches to the gates to the development.
Later the queue swelled to almost 50 people.
The first house was bought by a man who had been queuing from just after 6am.
"There seems to be a lot of interest, which is why we came here early," he said.
"I took a scout around yesterday to make sure nobody was camping out.
"I got here early this morning but it has been worth it - very much so."
Asked what attracted him to the property, he said: "I just like the area. It is a nice development and the houses are very good spec."
Another woman, who also declined to give her name, said she had been queuing since 8am.
She said: "I like the area and the green space - it is a nice area to live in.
"I know there is a lot of interest, so I wanted to get here early to give myself the best chance of getting one."
The scenes were reminiscent of the peak of the property boom around 2006 and 2007, when property sales would often draw queues of prospective buyers.
Earlier this week a survey also revealed the Northern Ireland housing market was outperforming other regions of the UK.
However, Mr Brien insisted this did not represent a return to the boom days.
"At the height of the property boom, in 2006 and 2007, a lot of people who were queuing for property were speculators," he added.
"They would have been hoping the house would have gone up in price and made a profit by the time they took possession of it.
"All the people in the queue [for this development] are owner-occupiers.
"There is nobody buying a house here as an investment or speculatively. They are buying it because that is where they want to live.
"It is a very different situation to 2007."
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