Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's house prices still 40% below pre-crisis costs: data

By Cate McCurry

House prices in Northern Ireland remain almost 40% below the pre-financial crisis, official data has found.

The survey, carried by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), shows that Northern Ireland is the only region in the UK which lags behind its pre-downturn prices.

However, it also found that house prices here rose faster than anywhere else in the UK with a 10.2% increase, taking the average price of a property here to £162,000.

And the separate Ulster University house price index for the third quarter of 2015 gives an average house price of £154,376 - up 7.8% on the same period last year.

And prices were up 5.3% on the second quarter of this year.

Belfast-based estate agent, Simon Brien, said sales this year have picked up "enormously" but predicted that the 10% price hike will begin to drop slightly.

"Throughout all of last year, Northern Ireland saw stability come back into the market and confidence gradually grew.

"This year it has picked up enormously in terms of sales. The severity of the downturn meant there has been a real shortage of new house buildings because there was very few during the downturn. But now the housing growth indicators are saying that there is a need for 11,000 new houses a year and during 2013 and 2014, there were only 6,000 new dwellings completed.

"We are seeing a lot of interest in the private housing market and I think next year we will see a lot more large scale sites coming on the market. As more come on the market that will reduce the rate of growth.

"Looking forward I would imagine the market will perform in increases of 3% to 4% per annum, which is how the market would have performed back in 2004.

"It's a good sustainable rate of growth because you wouldn't want the market performing at 10% a year."

The ONS said prices for first-time buyer homes grew 4.3% over the year to 2015, while homes bought by home-movers were up 6.9%.

Mr Brien said: "The demand has filtered all the way through the market meaning people are selling their house and trading up as you would want them too.

"Affordability is absolute key to the market being sustainable."

Belfast Telegraph