Belfast Telegraph

Housing boost as value of mortgages in Northern Ireland at highest for eight years

By John Mulgrew

The value of mortgages in Northern Ireland has now reached its highest point in eight years, according to a new report.

House purchase lending in Northern Ireland saw a quarter-on-quarter rise by number of loans and by amount borrowed, according to figures for the third quarter of the year by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

The rate has been buoyed by the number of first-time buyers, who account for more than half of all house purchases here.

Homeowner purchase activity increased to 3,600 loans.

That was up 16% on the second quarter and 6% on the third quarter of 2014.

The number of loans for re-mortgage remained the same at 1,700, but up more than a half in volume compared to the third quarter of 2014.

The average loan size for first-time buyers was £85,451 - up 5% on the previous quarter.

According to Niall Harkin, head of mortgage intermediary business at Danske Bank, the signs were "encouraging" for the housing market.

"The level of mortgage activity is very healthy, with both the number of mortgage sales and the value of those sales higher in the third quarter of 2015 than in the same three months of 2014," he said.

"The big news in these figures is the marked rise in re-mortgaging activity and volumes compared with this time last year.

"Alongside rising house prices, this is another good indicator that the Northern Ireland economy is continuing its recovery."

Derek Wilson, CML chairman for Northern Ireland, said the "increased house purchase activity was encouraging, especially as it was driven by those purchasing their first homes".

"Affordability conditions are relatively good in Northern Ireland compared to the UK overall, so there is potential for further growth to close out the year," he added.

"Re-mortgage activity is coming from a low base after activity declined greatly post-recession, and is still only a fifth of the level it was at its peak in 2007, but four quarters in a row of growth is positive, given how static it had been the past few years."

Belfast Telegraph