Belfast Telegraph

'Healthy' 6% increase pushes cost of the average Northern Ireland house to £132,000

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland's house prices are rising at a "relatively healthy rate" with annual growth of 6% to an average of £132,169, according to latest figures.

The residential property price index from Land and Property Services said the lowest priced average homes were £115,339 in Derry City and Strabane, while the dearest houses were in Lisburn & Castlereagh, where the average cost was £159,966.

And house prices across all district council areas rose over the quarter. While there was a 6% jump year-on-year, prices were also up 3% on the quarter before. Prices were also up 19.1% on the first quarter of 2015.

Samuel Dickey, the residential property spokesman at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said all district council areas had experienced rising prices, with Derry City and Strabane, along with the Causeway Coast and Glens, experiencing the strongest growth.

But, he continued, the house price index was still 44% below its peak in the third-quarter of 2007, ahead of the credit crunch and the collapse in the property market.

Mr Dickey said: "Looking in more depth, it is clear that there is variation in the market between property types, with new build prices rising much more quickly that prices for existing stock, and the average price of semi-detached properties rising more quickly in the past quarter (5.2%) than other property types.

"Indeed, the price of apartments actually fell marginally quarter-on-quarter (-0.6%)."

He said the annual growth of 6% was "relatively healthy".

"Looking ahead, the RICS survey suggests that this will be maintained into 2018, albeit that there are some challenges, including limited supply, alongside rising inflation and the fact that interest rates are edging upwards."

Meanwhile, the separate Housing Bulletin from the Department for Communities revealed that builders in Northern Ireland started work on 2,444 new homes in spring this year - an increase of 19% on the year before.

However, the government's Housing Bulletin also said that the number of new houses completed between April and June had fallen by 2.4% compared to the previous year, at 1,642.

Nicola McCrudden, the director of the Chartered Institute of Housing in Northern Ireland, said: "The ongoing recovery of housebuilding in Northern Ireland will help to ease pressure on rents and house prices.

"However, the level of new housebuilding needs to keep up with the level of need and we still have some way to go. There are obstacles that we must overcome, including getting land where it is needed and improving our planning system."

Brexit could also have an effect, she added: "The impact of Brexit is yet to be determined - there are concerns about the availability of skilled labour, the cost of materials and access to European finance for social housing providers."

The bulletin also revealed there were 4,650 households without a home during the quarter - down 11.3% on the quarter before. "Levels of homelessness remain unacceptably high in Northern Ireland. This is partly due to existing accommodation no longer meeting the needs of growing numbers of people with complex needs," it stated.

Belfast Telegraph

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