Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland house sales peak

The number of houses being sold in Northern Ireland is at its highest level since the boom six years ago, it has been revealed.

During July, August and September there were 1,706 transactions - a 20% jump on the previous three months, according to the University of Ulster Quarterly House Price Index.

The survey also found Lisburn was the most expensive area to buy with an average price of £173,224 while north Belfast was the cheapest with houses going for an average of £85,756.

Professors Alastair Adair and Stanley McGreal and doctors David McIlhatton and John McCord who wrote the UU report, said: "The sharp quarterly rise in the number of transactions is a major step forward for the local housing market. Coupled with a weighted quarterly price increase of 1.3%, it presents an optimistic picture of future prospects."

Although the overall average price of residential property in the third quarter was broadly similar to the previous quarter at £129,777, the survey said the improving volume of sales offered considerable comfort that the housing market was in recovery.

It also noted "a highly affordable price structure" with 44% of properties selling at or below £100,000 while three-quarters went for £150,000 or less.

"This should provide potential first-time buyers with confidence that there is a range of affordable housing in Northern Ireland. The price profile supports comments from the estate agency sector about the stabilisation of prices and growth in the number of transactions over the year," the report added.

In Belfast the volume of sales was significantly up to 537, indicating a more buoyant market, particularly in the south of the city where prices were highest.

Overall, the average price in Belfast was £141,625, up 2.6% over the quarter but down by 5.7% over the year.

Economist Alan Bridle said the conditions for a full economic recovery in Northern Ireland were still not in place.

He said: "With house sellers adjusting their price expectations downwards, we are seeing houses selling again in greater numbers at these reduced prices, with the lower end of the market particularly active.

"The more favourable economic outlook, allied to UK government measures to stimulate the housing market, is likely to support greater activity into 2014. However, the conditions for a broader-based and more buoyant recovery in Northern Ireland are not yet in place."

Over the year, the terraced/townhouse sector with an average price of £82,902 showed an increase of 3.9% and apartments at an average of £95,187 were up slightly by 0.3%.

In contrast, the average price of semi-detached houses fell by 3.6% over the year to £118,038. Semi-detached bungalows dropped 14.5% to £103,784 and the average price of detached bungalows dropped 4.4% to £141,164. Detached houses also declined by 9.3% to £219,493.

The Housing Executive's Head of Research, Joe Frey, said: "The latest house price data confirms that the housing market is continuing along the path of stabilisation and recovery. The significant increase in turnover will offer a wider choice for homeowners and sound opportunities for investors."

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