Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland house prices up 1.5% on last year

By Margaret Canning and PA

The average house price in Northern Ireland grew by £6,000 last year, according to official statistics.

An average home was £148,000 in December, up from £142,000 a year earlier, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS). That meant growth of 1.5% - down from the rise of 4.9% over the previous 12 month period.

Economist Andrew Webb, managing director of Webb Advisory, said political uncertainty may have contributed to the slowing growth.

"The Northern Ireland political and budget uncertainties probably played a role in suppressing some housing demand in many families."

And he said a growth in housebuilding during 2015 may also have increased levels of supply. "Builders took their cue from the strong growth in prices in 2014 and increased the level of new house building.

"Albeit from a low base, National House Building Council figures suggest that Northern Ireland builders registered 30% more new homes in 2015 than in 2014 (3,223, up from 2,487). Again, this could have hampered price increases somewhat."

And he said a growing trend for young people to rent could also have dampened demand and reduced the scope for 'bidding up'.

The overall house price index measurement for Northern Ireland is 44.6% below the peak of August 2007.Growth here is dwarfed by the UK as a whole, where prices grew 6.7% in the year to December, to reach an average of £288,000. In England, property prices rose by 7.3% in the year to December, to £301,000 on average.

London continues to be the most expensive region for property, with an average price of £536,000. The cheapest region in England is the North East, where the typical cost of a home is £155,000.

First-time buyers faced paying 6.4% more for a property in December than a year earlier. The average price paid for a starter home in December 2015 was £219,000.

Meanwhile, the CML said that first-time buyers collectively borrowed £46.7bn in 2015, a 4% increase on 2014 and the highest lending total for this sector by value since 2007.

Movers borrowed £72.1bn, a figure which was up by 7% on 2014. Lending to this sector was also at its annual highest since 2007, the CML said.

And £15.6bn was borrowed by buy-to-let investors for house purchases in 2015, also the highest annual total since 2007, said the CML's figures.

Paul Smee, director general of the CML, said better economic conditions and schemes like Help to Buy explain the increasing lending.

But Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said the rising cost of a home means that many people are losing hope of getting on the housing ladder.

Belfast Telegraph