Belfast Telegraph

New builds hit hardest as prices drop by 10%

By Margaret Canning

New houses have come down in price by nearly 10% over the past year, according to a government survey.

The Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin said the average selling price of a new dwelling was £152,900 - down £15,600 on a year earlier.

New builds registered with the National House Building Council were fetching between £106,000 in Belfast and £187,200 in Lisburn between July and September last year.

The Department for Social Development publication also said the average estimated selling price of new build flats was £104,000 - £5,000 (4.6%) lower than the quarter ending September 2010.

But at 9.3%, the fall for new builds is steeper than for all categories of houses, which were down 8.9% to £113,614 in the year to December, according to a survey by the Nationwide.

Richard McCulloch, a partner in Stanley Best estate agents in Cookstown, said changing attitudes to new builds among prospective buyers could be responsible for the fall.

"Buyers want value for money whether new build or not," he said. "In the past everyone wanted something brand spanking new with no issues. But nowadays people are just looking at the bottom line, getting something affordable that they can afford for the lifetime of their mortgage."

The bulletin claims there were 253 new houses sold between July and September, compared to 387 in the same period of 2010.

John Armstrong, managing director of the Construction Employers Federation, said: "House prices in general have now come down to affordable levels and there is strong evidence to suggest that the best value is to be found in new build housing."

According to the last University of Ulster house price survey, published in November, the average house price in Northern Ireland is £139,691 - down from a 2007 peak of £240,408.