Housing market to heat up before stamp duty hike, surveyors forecast
Northern Ireland's housing market is likely to heat up ahead of April's stamp duty hike, surveyors have said.
From the spring, buy-to-let investors will pay 3% more in duty than residential buyers.
Since Chancellor George Osborne's announcement last November, estate agents have reported a rise in the number of new buyer inquiries.
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: "The housing market has experienced an unusually buoyant December.
"Those in the industry have been speculating that this is the result of the Chancellor's announcement last November.
"Potential buy-to-let investors are looking to pick up properties before the increased stamp duty levy comes into force next April.
"If that is the case, then we can expect to see the housing market heating up further over the next few months."
However, RICS predicts that average price growth will moderate over the course of the next year relative to 2015.
Its Northern Ireland residential property spokesman, Samuel Dickey, said: "Key economic indicators for Northern Ireland remain reasonably upbeat. Combined with an ongoing supply issue in the housing market, this has been creating the conditions for rising prices."
The organisation published its RICS and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey for Northern Ireland for December 2015 today.
It pointed to a relatively supportive lending environment. But Mr Dickey cautioned: "However, as the year goes on, it remains to be seen what impact the ongoing slowdown in the global economy, combined with concerns locally in relation to job security in the manufacturing sector and public spending cuts, has on the housing market.
"RICS expects sales volumes to remain healthy, but we are likely to see a moderation in price growth relative to last year."