Belfast Telegraph

NIreland sees increase in mortgages

Northern Ireland was the only area of the UK to experience an increase in house purchase loans in the final part of 2011, according to figures released from mortgage lenders.

The total of loans, worth £240 million, increased by around a hundred to 2,500 during the final three months of last year because reduced prices make homes more affordable, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) Northern Ireland said.

Property values have been falling for months amid weak demand and the wider economic crisis which has restricted lending.

Chair of the CML Northern Ireland, Derek Wilson, said: "The increase in house purchase loans is a much needed confidence boost to the market in Northern Ireland. Lack of job security and underlying economic uncertainty have led to a lack of demand for mortgages, particularly among movers."

Loans increased 4% by number and value from the third quarter of the year. The number of loans represented an increase of 4% (with no change in the value) from the last quarter of 2010.

Overall in 2011, the number of loans for house purchase in Northern Ireland, at 8,800 loans, was down by 11%. However, the 7,200 remortgage loans taken out represented a 1% increase from 2010.

UK-wide, lending for house purchase in the final quarter of the year fell 5% by volume and 7% by value from the previous quarter, but grew 1% by volume and 3% by value compared to the last quarter of 2010.

Mr Wilson added: "We need to try to combat the general feeling of negativity and to promote the value of the wider property market to the economy encouraging confidence to breed confidence."

Tom McClelland, housing spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said the increase of the last three months may be related to completions of deals agreed over the busier summer period.

"The housing market is bumping around, if you look at the auction results they are good because of high levels of sales because the prices are so low," he said. "There is a large amount of debt that has to be dealt with, the price falls make houses a lot more affordable for most of the population."

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