Belfast Telegraph

House prices take UK's biggest drop

Bleak figures for 2012, but the hope is that we've hit rock bottom

By Helen Carson

Northern Ireland house prices are still falling - plummeting by 1.4% for the last quarter of 2012 - and have taken the biggest drop in the UK, it has been revealed.

The latest figures from the Nationwide House Price Index showed property values here went down by 8.2% over the year. And the average house price is now £104,282, taking the market back to 2004 values.

Counties Down and Armagh were the worst affected with prices declining by 10% last year.

Despite the continued price falls, local estate agent John Minnis has claimed "we are at the bottom of the market".

Belfast remains the most expensive place to buy a house in the province with more affordable homes in Tyrone and Fermanagh.

It was a gloomy picture in the rest of the UK with prices falling nearly everywhere except London and the South West both of which had modest growth of 0.7% and 0.2% respectively.

Minnis, who has three branches in the province, described the latest report as 'much more encouraging'.

"Overall in 2012, house prices saw very little change, taking the UK as a whole.

"Certainly in the areas in which our sales are focused we definitely have not experienced anything like an eight per cent decline."

Mr Minnis said there is an appetite for home-ownership with the number of sales proving 'encouraging' for this year.

"I remain in no doubt that we are at the bottom of the market," he added.

Richard McCulloch, an estate agent at Stanley Best in Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, said Nationwide's findings tallied with his own experience.

"Northern Ireland is certainly the worst-performing of all UK regions because our prices became so escalated that they had much further to fall.

"I would predict that there will be price falls in the next year, but I'd predict smaller price drops, probably of around 5% to 7%."

Desmond Turley, of Ulster Property Sales, in Belfast, said he believed there was more activity in the Belfast market place.

He said there had been recent transactions where sellers were prepared to accept around 10% less than their asking prices.

UK factfile

  • Average UK House Price - £162,924
  • Annual percentage change - 1.1%
  • Quarterly change +0.5%
  • Most expensive region - London
  • Least expensive region - Northern Ireland

Region Average Price Annual % change

  • London £300,361 + 0.7%
  • South West £184,625 + 0.2%
  • Outer South East England £198,009 -0.2%
  • Outer London £246,453 -0.2%
  • West Midlands £144,972 -0.8%
  • East Midlands £138,486 -0.8%
  • North of England £114,264 -1.3%
  • North West England £133,253 -1.6%
  • East Anglia £164,701 -1.9%
  • Yorks -amp; Humberside £131,046 -2.5%
  • Wales £131,630 -2.7%
  • Scotland £131,795 -3.3%
  • Northern Ireland £104,282 -8.2%