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End of stamp duty holiday fuelling rising demand for NI homes: report

NI buyers eager to snap up new properties before prices return to old levels, says RICS


Samuel Dickey from the RICS

Samuel Dickey from the RICS

Samuel Dickey from the RICS

Local demand for new homes continued to grow in November as the end of the stamp duty holiday loomed, according to a report published today.

A majority of surveyors and estate agents told the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) that sales had grown at a steeper pace in November than during October.

Most surveyors reported an increase in house prices as the local property market continued to defy fears of a slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns.

More RICS members in Northern Ireland reported higher prices than their counterparts in other regions of the UK.

The UK-wide stamp duty holiday, which leaves properties costing £500,000 or under exempt from the tax on purchases, expires at the end of March.

The RICS's residential market survey, which is carried out with Ulster Bank, said the number of new buyer enquiries rose during November, again at a higher rate than in October.

While the housing market did go into lockdown earlier in the year, it was not affected by the more recent restrictions.

Surveyors said that despite November's strong performance, the chances of prince hikes in the next few months were low.

They added that, anecdotally at least, buyers were in a rush to purchase before the stamp duty holiday comes to an end.

Samuel Dickey, the RICS's Northern Ireland residential property spokesman, said: "It has been a very busy quarter for the housing market.

"As we head into the Christmas period, it will no doubt be quieter in the second half of December, as it is every year.

However, we would expect activity to pick up again early in the new year as buyers seek to get in ahead of the stamp duty change.

"Beyond that, much will depend on the labour market, government support for the economy and lending conditions.

"Positive developments with a vaccine do give hope that life will get back to a greater degree of normality later in 2021.

"With that, the outlook for the economy should improve."

Terry Robb, head of personal banking at Ulster Bank, added: "November was again a very busy month for mortgage activity, with good demand from the full spectrum of borrowers. We have a range of competitive mortgage deals available, as well as options for Co-Ownership mortgages, which have been very popular.

"As a bank, we remain strongly committed to supporting people to buy their own home, to move house and to remortgage and will remain focused in 2021 on lending in a responsible way that enables people to do so and supports market activity."

While the RICS report did not quote prices, a separate property price index from Land & Property Services last month reported an average house price of £143,205 for the third quarter of the year, up 2.4% year-on-year.

Northern Ireland's rate of growth was the weakest of the four nations.

In the UK as a whole, prices by grew by an average of 4.7%.

Belfast Telegraph