EU uncertainty is having a negative impact on Northern Ireland house prices, study says
The EU referendum may be negatively impacting on the Northern Ireland housing market, a new study has said.
House prices in the first quarter of 2016 fell slightly after a stronger performance last year.
The average house price in Northern Ireland is now £147,472. This is a 1.4% increase over the past year, but a 6.5% decrease this quarter.
The research was produced by Ulster University in partnership with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Progressive Building Society.
Michael Boyd, Progressive deputy chief executive and finance director, said: "Northern Ireland has experienced consistent growth within the housing market over the last 18 months, with a strong performance in 2015.
"However, a number of factors including the prolonged Brexit debate, EU referendum, Assembly elections and stamp duty charges have contributed to the cooling of prices."
Mr Boyd added that the mortgage market was performing well, with strong competition supporting low interest rates.
South Belfast remains the most expensive housing area with an average price of £205,440, with the Londonderry and Strabane areas the lowest at £95,964.
Despite the downturn, the affordability of houses in Northern Ireland is still ahead of other UK regions, with two-thirds of houses here sold at or below £150,000.
The volume of house sales has also continued at a strong level.
Lead researcher Professor Stanley McGreal from Ulster University said: "The research statistics are reflective of mixed feelings by the sector across Northern Ireland with some estate agents attributing the apparent slowing in first quarter simply to a seasonal fluctuation, others attribute it to house buyers' concerns of economic uncertainty."
Joe Frey, the Housing Executive's head of research, put the dip down to a number of factors including a combination of a higher than expected increase in prices in the previous quarter and uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum."
However, he was optimistic the Northern Ireland housing market was heading in the right direction overall.
Mr Frey added: "Given transaction levels remain high and there is little sign of a significant affordability issue outside Belfast, the indications are that the market will continue its gradual recovery."