Belfast Telegraph

NI house prices drop 'could be caused by Brexit uncertainty'

By Allan Preston

House prices in Northern Ireland have started to fall, with an average selling price now of just over £150,000, according to new research.

The Ulster University findings say that over the past year house prices have dropped by 1.3%, and 2.6% in the last quarter alone.

Explanations for the change includes seasonal impacts on the market and hesitations caused by economic uncertainties such as Brexit.

Despite the overall decrease in price and volume of sales the housing market here is still described as being "healthy" in general.

With an average price of £150, 778 for all of Northern Ireland, south Belfast was the most expensive area with average prices of £206,350 followed by Londonderry/Strabane the lowest at £111,863.

Lead Ulster University researcher Professor Stanley McGreal said the weaker performance was reflected in all property types, but sales had actually increased in some areas of the province.

These included East Antrim, Londonderry and Strabane, Antrim and Ballymena, North Coast, Mid Ulster, Mid and South Down, and Craigavon and Armagh.

He added that estate agents had a mixed view of the state of the market.

"Their concerns could reflect the uncertainty of Brexit and the varying forecasts of the UK's GDP dropping," he said. "Likewise, changes in taxation and stamp duty allowances brought forward in early 2016 may now be having a delayed impact on the market."

The research was produced in partnership with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Progressive Building Society.

Michael Boyd, Progressive deputy chief executive and finance director, said transactions remained at "relatively strong levels".

"At Progressive, mortgage application levels were 7% higher for the last quarter of 2016 than 12 months ago," he said.

He said he expected the next few months would test the resolve of the local housing market.

"We will see whether continuing low borrowing costs and lack of housing supply coming onto the market outweigh the uncertainties over Brexit and local political concerns. Despite these uncertainties, the economic fundamentals remain relatively firm for house buyers with housing affordable, high employment and historically low mortgage rates."

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