Belfast Telegraph

New Northern Ireland house price figures contradict gloomy UK survey

By Claire McNeilly

Official property statistics compiled in Northern Ireland have determined that house prices here rose by 7% last year – just a day after a different set of official figures put the rate of growth at just 0.3%.

The locally-compiled figures have also revealed that sales – which hit 4,200 in the first three months of 2014 – were at their strongest since the same period seven years ago.

The Residential Property Price Index (RPPI), which is compiled by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, recorded growth of 7% on this time last year, while prices increased by 3% between the last quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton said: "The increasing confidence of buyers in the market is demonstrated by the rising level of transactions.

"It is encouraging that almost 4,200 residential properties were sold during the first quarter of 2014. This represented a 21% increase on the number sold in the first quarter of 2013 and was the highest number of first quarter sales recorded since 2007."

However, figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this week showed that Northern Ireland house prices rose by a paltry 0.3% in the 12 months to March – putting Northern Ireland at the bottom of the UK growth table.

Questioned about the discrepancy, a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance and Personnel said the locally-compiled RPPI gives a more comprehensive picture of the housing market.

She said: "It's more accurate because it includes all types of sales – both cash and mortgage – and the transactions are reported to HMRC, whereas the ONS price index is based on a sample of mortgage finance transactions from the Council of Mortgage Lenders."

Reeds Rains, one of the largest independently owned estate agencies in Northern Ireland, reported a 26% increase in the number of homes sold during the first three months of 2014 compared to the same period last year.

Director Ryan Andrews said: "There is a renewed confidence in the marketplace. Over recent months we've seen a 22% increase in homes coming on the market."

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