Belfast Telegraph

House price surge: But agent says they may never return to Northern Ireland boom days

By Chris Kilpatrick

House prices in Northern Ireland have some way to recover to reach their previous peak levels, recorded in August 2007.

Property values are still 43% below their pre-financial crisis peak, having tumbled sharply as the downturn set in.

Experts do not believe homeowners here are set to see their properties reach those record values in the near future, possibly never.

The recent increases have paved the way for many to sell their properties after price increases lifted them out of negative equity.

One property on the Lisburn Road's asking price rose to £125,000 and a deal for £137,000 was finally agreed, freeing up the owners to sell it on having rented it out for four years.

At its peak the terraced property was worth £220,000.

The Office for National Statistics reported property prices here increased by almost 12% in the year to last November. This was above the UK average of 10%.

"The demand is outstripping the supply in the hotspots," said Paddy Turley from Ulster Property Sales.

"Activity levels are up in all of our branches in the past year.

"We're still a long way off what it was and I can't ever see it getting back to that level.

"I don't think the banks will allow it unless there is a big upturn in the economy.

"What is happening is refreshing because we are seeing educated buyers.

"What I mean by that is people understand the price of a house.

"They understand their affordability."

The findings from the Office for National Statistics are based on data from mortgage completions.

Many reports showed a general cooling of the housing market as 2014 came to an end.

An increased mood of caution among house-hunters and speculation over exactly when interest rates are likely to start rising, pushing up mortgage costs, were suggested as being partly behind the slowdown.

The Government's overhaul of stamp duty in December has prompted expectations that the market could be poised for a pick-up in early 2015.

The move will result in a cut in stamp duty for the vast majority liable to pay it, potentially encouraging more people to buy and sell homes.

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