Belfast Telegraph

Election uncertainty blamed for slowdown in Northern Ireland house sales

By John Mulgrew

Some potential home-buyers in Northern Ireland have adopted a 'wait and see' approach to purchasing a property in the run-up to today's general election, according to a new survey.

And according to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey, newly agreed house sales in Northern Ireland eased back during May, despite a rise in enquiries from potential buyers and new instructions from sellers.

It was the first time in nine months that the majority of surveyors didn't report a rise in newly-agreed sales.

But there were expectations that sales activity would pick up in the three months ahead.

And the majority of surveyors did report a price increase in the May survey.

RICS residential property spokesman Samuel Dickey said: "Surveyors are reporting an increasing number of potential buyers and potential sellers coming to the market, and expect this to translate into increased sales activity in the months ahead, despite an easing back in May.

"It is particularly encouraging to hear reports of more properties coming onto the market, which should help ease some of the supply issues that have long prevailed."

And Sean Murphy, managing director of personal banking at Ulster Bank, said it is continuing "to see a good flow of mortgage interest in line with the latest RICS figures which show a rise in new buyer enquiries".

"Buying or moving home remains an attractive option for many people, as, despite rising prices, buying in Northern Ireland remains relatively very affordable," he said.

"We see evidence that people retain a strong desire to own their own home."

Meanwhile, another fresh survey shows house price growth is running at around a third of the levels seen in spring last year.

Property values across the UK increased by 3.3% annually in May, the lowest annual rate since a 2.6% increase in May 2013, Halifax said.

The 3.3% increase is around a third of a 10% rise in March last year.

There has been "virtually no change" in house prices over the last three months, Halifax said.

Property values increased by 0.4% month-on-month in May, to reach £220,706 on average across the UK.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said May's Halifax data should allay concerns that house prices are on a downward spiral in the UK.

Belfast Telegraph