NI housing prices are on the increase claim estate agents ... but supply is still a concern
Northern Ireland will see a pick up in house prices and market activity over the next three months, a survey of estate agents said today.
And professional body the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said the market here would be more buoyant that other UK regions.
However, the RICS and Ulster Bank residential market survey said there had been suggestions from members that a lack of housing stock had led to a slowdown in sales and enquiries from prospective buyers during September.
Most members who were surveyed were positive about prices over the last three months.
It comes as Northern Ireland estate agency Simon Brien announced the opening of a new office in Newtownards, Co Down.
Samuel Dickey, RICS residential property spokesman in Northern Ireland, said that overall, the survey painted "a relatively upbeat" picture of the housing market here.
"Indeed, Northern Ireland and Scotland are the only parts of the UK where surveyors are confident that prices will rise meaningfully over the near-term.
"With key indicators for the local economy continuing to show strong growth in the private sector, this optimism is perhaps unsurprising.
"The one key challenge though remains supply, with surveyors continuing to indicate that availability of stock remains a problem."
Sean Murphy, managing director of personal banking at Ulster Bank, said: "As we move into the final quarter of 2017, what is clear is that this year to date has been a reasonably positive one for the Northern Ireland housing market."
The RICS survey follows data from Land & Property Services showing growth in house prices in Northern Ireland.
The latest residential property price index from Land & Property Services reported a 4.4% increase in average house prices to £128,650 between the second quarter of 2016 and the second quarter of this year.
The index takes into account auction sales, cash sales as well as home purchases financed by mortgages. According to statistics body UK Finance, in the second quarter of 2017 Northern Ireland home buyers borrowed £420m, up 17% on the first quarter of 2017 and 24% compared to the second quarter last year.
There were 3,800 loans taken out for house purchase, up 15% quarter-on-quarter and 15% compared to a year ago.
First-time buyers borrowed £230m, up 15% on the first quarter and 21% on the second quarter last year.
In all, there were 2,400 loans taken out by first-time buyers, up 20% both quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year. And Northern Ireland first-time buyers typically borrowed £96,900, compared to £137,700 in the UK overall.