Northern Ireland home builders have busiest fourth quarter since 2010
Northern Ireland has recorded its busiest fourth quarter for new home builds since 2010, according to official statistics.
The figures show work started on 1,840 new dwellings between October and December 2018 - 32.3% more than in the same quarter 12 months previously.
The vast majority (1,683) related to private development - a 28% increase on a year earlier.
The Department of Finance figures showed a slight fall in new starts throughout the year from the peak of 2,589 in April to June 2018, which was the busiest quarter since April to June 2010.
The 157 starts seen on new social homes during the last quarter of 2018 were double the 76 recorded in 2017. However, the activity eased during the year from a high of 311 in the second quarter.
The 2,174 homes which were completed here between October and December 2018 added up to the highest fourth quarter recorded since 2010.
The number of residential property sales also dipped from 6,326 over the summer months to 5,736 during October to December.
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The total number of homes sold in Northern Ireland in 2018 was 23,687, which was down on the 24,640 sold in 2017.
According to the house price index produced by Land and Property Services, the average price of a house here stood at £136,669 in December, up 5.5% over 12 months.
Apartments rose by the highest amount (6.5%) over the year, with the average now standing at £111,296. The average terrace home was valued at £95,861, up 5.6% in a year, with detached and semi-detached valued at £203,333 and £132,122 respectively. Both rose by just over 5%.
A total of 414 new build dwellings were sold in Northern Ireland during October to December 2018, with the average price rising to £170,400. That was down from the £172,200 figure reported over July to September last year. However, the annual figure has remained on an upward trend since 2013.
The data follows the latest Residential Market Survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Ulster Bank for April.
It found that while house prices in Northern Ireland continued to outperform other UK regions last month, activity in the market was falling back amid Brexit uncertainty.
As a result, surveyors' near-term expectations for sales activity have dropped to their lowest level since December 2007, but the cost of residential property is expected to continue on an upward trajectory over the coming 12 months.
Meanwhile, the total number of Northern Ireland households presenting as homeless was 3,910 during October to December 2018 - a slight increase on the 3,899 reported in 2017.
The figure reduced throughout 2018 from 4,916 in April. The most common reason was that accommodation was not reasonable (796).