Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland housing market records highest price gains in the UK

By Lindsay Fergus

Northern Ireland's housing market has recorded the strongest price gains in the UK, according to the latest RICS and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey.

August was the 15th month in succession that surveyors in Northern Ireland indicated that prices rose, with a price balance of 68% – up nine percentage points on July.

Local surveyors anticipate the trend to continue, with expectations for sales and prices strong – indeed in the case of prices, significantly stronger than any other UK region.

And unlike other UK regions, speculation about a rise in the Bank of England's base rate doesn't seem to be impacting the Northern Ireland housing market the way it is elsewhere, according to RICS.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that growing speculation regarding the timing of the first rate rise and warnings from UK policymakers regarding potential risks in the UK housing market may have had an impact on buyer confidence in England.

In terms of prices, Northern Ireland, alongside East Anglia, recorded the strongest price gains in the UK, according to the latest survey, while price momentum in the London market in particular has continued to soften.

RICS Northern Ireland spokesman Samuel Dickey said: "Clearly, the Northern Ireland housing market recovery is at a very different stage from some other regions.

"Prices remain significantly below their peak here, making houses much more affordable, and the growth we are seeing is from a lower base.

"With a range of indicators suggesting that the local economy continues to perform well, and with the series of job announcements that we have heard announced recently by Invest NI, we expect the environment for an ongoing housing market recovery to remain in place for the foreseeable future."

Derek Wilson, head of lending products at Ulster Bank, commented: "The latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, for Q2 2014, show a substantial increase in both house purchase and remortgage lending in Northern Ireland in the first six months of this year.

"This gives a good indication of the ongoing recovery that is taking place in the local housing market.

"In terms of our own lending, in the first half of the year, Ulster Bank saw a 44% increase in mortgage drawdowns and a 45% increase in mortgage offers compared to the same period last year."

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist described the UK market as having "lost some of its momentum" because of fears over the rise in borrowing costs.

Belfast Telegraph

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