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Northern Ireland housing market has slowed down in wake of Brexit vote, say estate agents

By Rachel Martin

Brexit is hitting housing in Northern Ireland an industry survey suggested today, as estate agents indicate gloom about the property market.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said that for the first time in three years members expected prices to slide.

The body attributed the negativity to the EU referendum result and impact of higher stamp duty on investment property.

There was an increase of 6% in the numbers of estate agent members of RICS expecting price falls over the next three months.

And the outlook for the number of house sales that might take place was the most pessimistic in four years.

Enquiries from new buyers were down for the third month in a row - and there was no increase in people wanting to sell.

RICS Northern Ireland spokesman Samuel Dickey said its survey gave an early feel for the mood of the market.

He said: "It is not surprising that the uncertainty in the wider economy is impacting on housing market sentiment in some areas. However, only after the initial shock of the past couple of weeks has passed will we get a clearer picture of how the market is faring." He said he did not anticipate falling prices in Belfast, due to a lack of supply.

He added: "A lack of supply has characterised the Northern Ireland housing market in recent years, particularly in Greater Belfast, and this should continue to be a factor."

Colin Barclay, group residential sales manager at Morton Pinpoint estate agents in Belfast, said he expected a short-term slowdown, but felt there would be a "gradual but steady" recovery in the last quarter.

"People can put things on hold for a few months, but then they want to get back to normal. At the start of the year I expected a 5-6% increase in prices but I now think they will be reasonably static, but steady and slow increases are better and healthier for the market."

However, Londonderry estate agent Paul O'Keefe said: "We have seen no change at all in prices or sales levels since the Brexit - it's been business as normal here.

"Obviously there was an element of concern for anyone in business, but we have been as busy as we were three months ago. I think it's like the millennium bug - everyone is panicking but nothing was happening. I think things are stable enough in the north west."

Co Down estate agent Tim Martin had not noticed any post-Brexit slowdown in sales.

He said: "I was pro-Europe and still am, but I think that I am not convinced that the man on the street is overly worried about it. Job security is likely to shake the market more than the Brexit vote. And unless there's a mass exodus of investment, I don't see any major changes for most people."

Belfast Telegraph