Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland first-time buyers up by 20% on same period in 2016

By Rachel Martin

First-time home buyer borrowing has shot up by a fifth at the start of this year, a new report has said. The latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) suggests the number of people getting the keys to their first home is on the rise.

First-time sales shot up 19% in the first quarter of 2017, based on the same period a year earlier.

CML Northern Ireland chairman Derek Wilson said the demographic continues to be a "key driver" to the market, with first-time buyers accounting for nearly two-thirds of property borrowing this quarter.

And Keith Mitchell, managing partner at Templeton Robinson, said property demand continues to outstrip supply.

"While the first quarter of the year is acknowledged as one of the more quiet periods in the property market, the continued year-on-year growth represents a solid performance for transactions in Northern Ireland, and is in line with what we're experiencing across all five regional Templeton Robinson branches, he said.

"This is reflected in the steady growth we're seeing, compared to activity at the height of the market a decade ago. However, as we enter one of the busiest times for the property market here, we expect the number of transactions to increase and look forward to continued positivity across both the first-time buyer market, as well as home movers."

In the initial three months of the year, first-time buyers borrowed a combined £190m - down 14% on the fourth quarter of 2016, but up 19% on the first quarter last year.

Similarly, the number of loans given to those buying for the first time was down 9% on the last quarter, but up 18% on the year before.

Across the market as a whole, mortgages amounted to a combined £350m, up 3% compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Niall Harkin, head of mortgage intermediary business at Danske Bank, said that further growth was expected.

"The first-time buyer and remortgage markets continue to demonstrate strong and sustained growth. Rates and deals in the remortgage market are very competitive as we are still in a very low interest rate environment, so clearly people see this as a good time to remortgage," he said.

"The ongoing low interest environment continues to support competitive mortgage rates, and while rising inflation will put some pressure on household incomes, we expect continued strong mortgage demand, with the possibility of an interest rate rise due to higher inflation perhaps driving more people to look for a good deal in the near term."

Belfast Telegraph