Belfast Telegraph

House prices on rise but market subdued in wake of Brexit vote

By John Mulgrew

Prices across the housing market in Northern Ireland improved in the wake of Brexit, a fresh poll of estate agents has reported.

Overall, some confidence bounced back in the housing market in July, following the vote to leave the EU.

But the number of new buyers and people wanting to sell dropped, and activity is expected to remain subdued over the coming months.

Figures for prices, price expectations and sales bounced back, according to the latest Rics (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey.

But they remained cautious about the outlook for sales, with respondents expecting sales activity to be broadly flat over the next three months.

A greater number of those surveyed said house prices here increased last month, following a sharp decline a month earlier.

That previous data was gathered in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit result.

With supply already limited and fewer properties coming on to the market, prices are expected to edge up slightly, Rics said.

Residential property spokesman Samuel Dickey said: "Last month, we said that only when the initial shock of the referendum result passed would we get a clearer picture of how the market is really faring.

"One month on, sentiment has moved back somewhat.

"However, with some economic uncertainty remaining, it is not surprising if some will remain cautious.

"For now, there are fewer buyers and sellers in the market, which could create a more subdued sales picture."

The tally of new buyers decreased for the fourth month in a row, although the rate at which they are falling has slowed.

Sean Murphy, a regional managing director at Ulster Bank, said: "The imbalance between supply and demand in key population centres remains one of the main characteristics of the market.

"Unsurprisingly, there is uncertainty in the wider economy, as the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland Purchasing Managers' Index highlighted earlier this week, and the housing market cannot be immune.

"However, with the Bank of England base rate now further reduced, mortgage rates are at an historic low."

The latest survey comes after fresh figures showed house building is on the rise here.

The total number of 'new dwelling starts' was 1,533 in the first quarter of 2016.

That was up 4% on the same period a year earlier, according to figures from the Department for Communities.

Belfast Telegraph