Belfast Telegraph

NI house prices rise but lack of supply is holding back market

By Margaret Canning

House prices in Northern Ireland have grown nearly 4% year-on-year to reach an average of £127,921, according to research.

The Nationwide Building Society's house price index for the three months to March also found that house price growth across the UK was now at its most evenly-spread level in nearly 40 years.

According to the index, Northern Ireland's house price growth quarter-on-quarter was 0.3%.

But estate agents have said a lack of supply is holding back the housing market in Northern Ireland.

Paddy Turley, an estate agent at agency UPS, which has branches in Belfast and north Down, confirmed there had been growth in house prices. He added, however: "Growth is not as strong as it had been around four years back though, at that point, prices were coming back from a very low base point.

"However, changes to stamp duty on investment properties in April last year has probably been a factor in growth slowing down a little."

Since last year, people buying investment properties have had to pay extra stamp duty.

But there was confidence in the market, Mr Turley continued - though mainly from buyers. "Any rise in prices is really down to a lack of supply in the market."

He said many people in Northern Ireland were still in negative equity as house prices have fallen by up to 60% in some areas since 2007.

And while the owners of a three-bed semi-detached property might be ready to move on, he said the owners of the four-bed detached house they'd wish to trade up to, would not be ready to move out or downsize.

According to the Nationwide index, the strongest-performing region in the UK is the Outer South East, where house prices are up by 6.4% annually.

The weakest-performing region is North East England, where property values are down by 0.4% year on year.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said around half of regions across the UK have seen house price growth accelerate, and the same proportion have seen house price growth slow down - narrowing the gap between the strongest and the weakest-performing regions.

Growth in Scotland has remained "fairly steady", with values increasing by 2.9% annually to reach £143,964 on average. Wales saw a slight softening in house price growth, with a 1.2% increase pushing average house prices there to £143,236.

Belfast Telegraph