Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland house prices slump to lowest level since 2005

House prices in Northern Ireland are still falling — with the average cost of a home dipping below £150,000 for the first time in five years, a major survey revealed today.

A 7.6% drop over the last 12 months has seen the average house price fall to its lowest level since late 2005.

The figures are contained in the University of Ulster’s quarterly House Price Index, which provides a snapshot of the region’s property market.

Today’s report, produced in partnership with Bank of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, puts the average overall price at £148,243.

The survey said that the tentative recovery in house prices in the first half of this year had been put on hold, or even reversed.

Its authors, Professor Alastair Adair, Professor Stanley McGreal and Dr David McIlhatton, pointed to an ongoing lack of confidence in the housing market.

“The significant fall in house prices stems from a current lack of confidence in the market, possibly reflecting concerns about public spending cuts and their impact on jobs in a region highly dependent on public sector employment,” they said.

Alan Bridle, an economist with the Bank of Ireland, said it was clear the residential market was still facing challenges.

“Potential buyers remain discouraged by uncertainty over economic prospects and, in terms of supply, there is no shortage of

houses available to buy or to rent,” he said.

Belfast experienced one of the most dramatic slides, with prices falling by 21.7% over the year to £138,131. In north Down the average price is now £179,263 — falling 11.7% over the year.

The survey indicated that the market is increasingly affordable, with more than a quarter of houses selling at or below £100,000.

The Housing Executive’s head of research Joe Frey said it was unsurprising the housing market was turning down again given the imminent cuts.

“However, despite the lower house prices, affordability will remain a difficult issue for first-time buyers for as long as banks continue to allocate mortgages on the basis of very restrictive lending criteria,” he said.

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