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House prices rise by 6% in Northern Ireland as recovery continues

By Claire McNeilly

Published 18/05/2016

House prices in Northern Ireland have increased by almost 6% in the past year, a new official report has found
House prices in Northern Ireland have increased by almost 6% in the past year, a new official report has found

House prices in Northern Ireland have increased by almost 6% in the past year, a new official report has found.

The value of a standard home is now just over £117,500, as the market continues to stabilise, according to data from the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (Nisra).

Prices are strongest in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area, where houses cost an average of £140,686. At the other end of the scale is Derry and Strabane, with a £99,524 price tag.

In the first three months of 2016, Nisra said that 5,300 residential properties were sold in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland prices remain below pre-crash levels, however, and Nisra also indicated that they experienced a 1% quarter-on-quarter decline.

PWC chief economist Dr Esmond Birnie said the figures in the official report showed there was no room for complacency in the local housing market.

"Annual growth in the year through to Quarter 1 was 5.9%, although the NISRA data indicated that Northern Ireland house prices experienced a 1% decline in average values in Q1 2016 compared to Q4 2015, with the decline across all property types except apartments," said Dr Birnie.

"The fact that the market in Northern Ireland experienced a quarter-on-quarter decline is a sign of continued fragility in both the housing market and the broader economy.

"In Q1 2016 the average property price in Northern Ireland was still 48% below its pre-crash peak in Quarter 3 2007."

One local estate agency, Best Property Services, said it had witnessed a rise of 33% in properties listed and sold between January and April this year, compared to the same period in 2015, as well as a 17% rise in transaction values.

In terms of specific property type, there were more detached properties sold in the first quarter of 2016, up 233% on the previous year, while there was also a significant rise in semi-detached houses sold.

Adrian Doran, residential sales advisor at Best, said growing demand in these sectors was buoying up prices.

"Clients who had previously been cautious about building or relocating are more likely to do so now and we've seen some competitive bidding in the detached sector in Q1 this year which hasn't been evident for some time," he said.

"Prices of semi-detached properties are also showing moderate rises, which is encouraging this market sector."

Mr Doran said that while more properties were being listed, there was a significant demand for starter and first time buyer properties which wasn't being met.

Lack of supply of terraced properties saw significantly fewer listed and sold - down 69% - despite strong demand for that property type.

"It's a case of lack of supply as investors are more likely to hold onto properties in this sector due to strong prices and increasing rental demand," he said.

"In the same data sample, apartments completed grew by 400% as prices in the market improved and investment in an apartment from a rental perspective remains valuable."

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