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Northern Ireland estate agents expect housing market to remain strong

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There is expected to be a "strong rebound" in the market after the coronavirus.

There is expected to be a "strong rebound" in the market after the coronavirus.

There is expected to be a "strong rebound" in the market after the coronavirus.

Estate agents in Northern Ireland are available for business and preparing for a return to normality following the lockdown, an industry leader has said.

The Guild of Property Professionals represents around 860 estate agents around the UK, and has 25 members in Northern Ireland.

Art O'Hagan, of CPS Property, the Northern Ireland regional director of the Guild, said its members are still transacting and available for business.

CPS Property has six branches in Northern Ireland, including Armagh, Dungannon, Belfast and Enniskillen.

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Forecasts: Art O'Hagan

Forecasts: Art O'Hagan

Forecasts: Art O'Hagan

Mr O'Hagan said members of the Guild all over Northern Ireland had adapted to changing their practices to navigate their way through the pandemic.

"All of the Guild members are operating virtual offices and are upskilling their experienced teams to ensure they are prepared for post lockdown."

Mr O'Hagan said he believed the market would return after lockdown.

"Pre Covid-19, the property market was not over-heating and was stable, therefore we have to assume the same demand will be there. Interest rates are low and banks have the liquidity to fund suitable borrowers.

"The NI property market is less exposed than it was in the previous four historical property crashes in 1972, 1979, 1988 and 2008 and we think that's for several reasons.

"Before each of those four crashes, there had been a significant upward spike in property values prior to the crash. We've not really experienced that in the last 12 months.

"There are concerns that a drop in house prices will be caused by unemployment, but historically, we've seen that house price falls aren't caused by high unemployment.

"In addition, there are generous and unprecedented government polices in place to bolster the economy through this pandemic, including the furloughing of staff, the relaxing of VAT demands and rates.

"We also don't see an increase in social housing over the next one to four years, so demand will remain high for rentals, so the buy-to-let marketplace will remain strong."

Mr O'Hagan said the impact of the pandemic and lockdown represented a "freeze of the economy as opposed to a V-shaped decline".

He added: "Leading experts and economists feel this will be a U-shaped health-led trend, where the dip will be during the freeze, the trail along the bottom will be the length of the lockdown and the market may sit very close to where it left off in February pre Covid-19."

John Minnis

John Minnis, of John Minnis Estate Agents, which has branches in east Belfast, Holywood, Donaghadee and Comber, said: "It's significant that the construction industry was one of the first to start back after the lockdown in Spain and Italy, and identified as the most significant wheels of industry after essential services.

"This, we hope, will be replicated in the UK and Ireland as this will kickstart the economy to avoid any long-term financial Government burden and move the property industry in a proactive manner.

"Wang Menghui, the minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (Housing Minister in China) also noted the significant bounce-back of housing markets in Chinese cities that have scaled back lockdown measures."

Mr Minnis added: "We feel this is a time for no kneejerk reactions. The focus is on protecting our health, utilising the Government guidelines, then allowing us to focus on moving you to a home of your choice."

Belfast Telegraph