Belfast Telegraph

Ulster is cheapest place in UK to buy a property

By Helen Carson

Northern Ireland is the cheapest place in the UK to buy a property, according to a new house price report.

The Nationwide Quarterly study showed that local house prices are down 2.1% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same time last year.

The average house price here is now £109,562, plummeting a further 8.6% over the year — and down a massive 50% since the boom, according to the report.

House-hunters can now expect to pay an asking price at levels last seen in 2005.

Historically, Northern Ireland had the cheapest houses in the UK but these rose to record levels during the boom years of 2006-07 with rises of 60% plus — some city homes even quadrupled in value.

While nationally the value of bricks and mortar is more or less unchanged — down a minuscule 0.1%, taking the average UK value to £162,722 — the province is making headlines for all the wrong reasons with Belfast the worst performing city in the UK , a drop of 15% over the year.

This takes the average price of a city home to £150,738.

Now, though, local homes are more affordable than anywhere else and back to pre-boom prices.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Northern Ireland recorded a third consecutive quarter of price declines. Average prices were down 8.6% year-on-year.”

All parts of Northern Ireland saw price falls over the year, the largest being Belfast — yet it is still the most expensive place in the province to buy a house.

Those seeking good value should look to the west of the province where a home is cheaper than anywhere else, with an average price of £122,505, down for another year by 13%. Meanwhile, Co Down has the strongest price change with price drops slowing to minus 12% compared to minus 16% for the same period last year.

Simon Brien (below), of leading estate agent BTWCairns, agreed that prices have fallen over the last year: “What we are seeing, probably more so in the last month, is significantly more activity in terms of viewing levels and a bit more confidence in the housing market.

“If people aren’t comfortable with prices then they won’t turn out for viewings, showing we are at the bottom of price falls now.”

Mr Brien added that new developments such as Lacefield in east Belfast and Coopers Mill are pulling in the buyers at open days.

He pointed out, though, that getting a mortgage now is much tougher: “There are banks who are offering 95% loans, but the lending criteria is very strict with in-built stress-testing of people’s means. I don’t think we will see a return to the liberal lending, which in some ways fuelled the boom of a few years ago.”

factfile

  • Average UK house price: £162,722
  • Annual percentage change: 0.2%
  • Quarterly change: minus 0.1%
  • Most expensive region: London
  • Least expensive region: Northern Ireland
  • Strongest annual price change: London
  • Weakest annual price change: Northern Ireland
  • Wales was the only part of the UK to have a worse quarterly house price change than Northern Ireland, down 3.1%

Stats from most recent Nationwide Quarterly House Price report

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