Average Northern Ireland house price at highest level for a decade
The average house price in Northern Ireland is at its highest level for more than a decade, according to the latest research from Ulster University.
After hovering around £162,000 for several consecutive quarters, the latest analysis indicates that the average price of properties sold during the third quarter of 2019 was £171,763 - a rise of 5% when compared to the same period last year and an increase of 5.7% on the second quarter of 2019.
But the optimistic outlook for the housing market came with a warning of uncertainty on the horizon, with a General Election in December and the spectre of Brexit still looming large in the minds of house buyers.
Belfast has seen the biggest price rise, with the average home costing over 13% more in 2019 than a year earlier and now standing at £166,092.
The Lisburn and Castlereagh area remains the most expensive place to purchase, with an average home costing £196,016, ahead of Ards and North Down at £191,300.
Derry City and Strabane is the least expensive, with an average cost of £122,032.
Ulster University's research is produced in partnership with Progressive Building Society and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
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Lead researcher Dr Martin Hinch from Ulster University said the housing market has shown resilience despite unprecedented uncertainty.
"The latest research indicates an element of buoyancy in the market during the third quarter of the year, following a prolonged period of relatively passive house price performance," he said.
"This growth suggests robust market sustainability and displays a level of resilience through what has been an unprecedented period of uncertainty.
"The ongoing Brexit situation together with the outcome of the upcoming General Election will undoubtedly exert a significant short-term influence upon the political and economic direction of the UK and Northern Ireland over the coming months."
Karly Greene, head of research at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, which commissions the research, said she expects the market to remain healthy in the short-term.
"These figures reflect the highest average price of properties sold on the open market in Northern Ireland for more than a decade, with a strong level of transactions reflecting ongoing demand, especially for affordable dwellings," she said.
"There is reason to expect that the market will remain relatively healthy in the immediate future, while 2020 may bring a greater degree of clarity about some of the factors influencing the longer term outlook.
"Price growth over the quarter appears to have been particularly strong in the terrace/townhouse and apartment sectors, while the proportion of properties sold at prices up to £100,000 fell from 24% in Q2 2019 to 18% in the third quarter. The findings appear to point towards ongoing competition for affordable properties."
Michael Boyd, deputy chief executive and finance director at the Progressive Building Society, said a positive Brexit outcome would be crucial to continuing optimism.
"This latest report confirms the affordability and resilience of the market with an annual increase of 5% and a quarterly increase of 5.7%," he said.
"Northern Ireland remains one of the most affordable housing markets in the UK and the current level of house price increases is a welcome stimulus to the local market.
"However, there is still a reticence amongst some buyers and a positive Brexit outcome will be crucial to the continuation of strong levels of transactions in the housing market."