Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Lost decade at an end as house prices soar by 9% in Northern Ireland

By Claire McNeilly

Published 25/02/2016

Northern Ireland house prices have risen more over the past 12 months than in any of the previous nine years, experts have said
Northern Ireland house prices have risen more over the past 12 months than in any of the previous nine years, experts have said

Northern Ireland house prices have risen more over the past 12 months than in any of the previous nine years, experts have said.

New figures show the cost of an average property here is now just under £150,000.

That represents an increase of 9% compared to the same period last year, according to the latest Ulster University House Price Index.

The data shows that 62% of houses were sold at or below £150,000 in October, November and December 2015, which, according to the report, is an indication of the affordable market in Northern Ireland.

Newbuilds, meanwhile, saw their property share increase by 5% from the final quarter of 2014 to 19%, signalling a steady rise in private sector housing development.

Property is worth most in south Belfast, where an average house costs almost £210,000, while the cheapest location is Londonderry/Strabane, where the average property price is just under £90,500.

Joe Frey, head of research at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, said that the 9% price increase was the biggest in nine years.

"This is the highest annual rate of increase in house prices since the start of the major downturn in 2007," he said, stressing that it confirms the housing market has made "substantial progress" in terms of recovery.

He added: "It is important, however, that the supply of new homes increases again in order to prevent the re-emergence of a more widespread affordability problem."

Based on a sample of 1,951 house sales in the final quarter of 2015, the research found an overall average price of £154,685 - up 9% over the year and 4.7% over the quarter.

The volume of sales is marginally lower than the third quarter of 2015, although it is largely consistent with the level of trading activity throughout the rest of the year.

Lead researcher Professor Stanley McGreal, from the Ulster University, said that apartments saw the biggest year-on-year price increase, followed by townhouses.

"The strong property market during the final quarter of 2015 is reflected in higher overall average prices across most property types," Professor McGreal said.

"The highest rate of annual increase was seen by terraces/townhouses up by 19.3% over the year to £102,571."

Prof McGreal said some areas saw prices stabilise while in other regions property went up in value.

"The housing markets in north Down, east Antrim, Fermanagh and the north-west appear to be consolidating after enjoying a buoyant third quarter," he added.

Estate agent Paddy Turley, who is based at Ulster Property Sales, also suggested there was renewed confidence among buyers and sellers.

"We're seeing a strong level of demand across the board," he said.

The price index, which is produced by the Ulster University in partnership with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, examined the performance of Northern Ireland's residential property market over the fourth quarter of 2015.

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