Northern Ireland housing development sparks overnight queues for new homes
A major investment in over 100 new homes in Northern Ireland will address a shortage of affordable properties for first-time buyers, it's been claimed.
Developers KAP Properties said prospective buyers had camped out overnight to be first in line to put down deposits for the new homes at Saul Road, in Downpatrick, Co Down.
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The development will create 30 new jobs and is being part-funded by Danske Bank.
The houses are on sale for between £140,000 - above the average house price in Northern Ireland - and £175,000.
It comes as the latest house price index from Land and Property Services reported that house prices have grown by 5.5% over the last year to hit an average of £136,699.
And new housing starts in the province have also hit a nine-year high.
Northern Ireland experienced the highest percentage growth of anywhere in the UK between the final quarter of 2017 and the end of 2018.
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The house price index, which includes cash sales and auctions ales, says prices are now up 40% from their lowest point in 2013.
However, they are still 39% below their 2007 peak of £224,670.
Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said house price increases here were now rising at twice the UK's rate of increase of 2.7%. But he said that following the house price crash of 2007, prices here were recovering from a low base.
And he said the year had seen the highest number of housing starts at 8,624 - a nine-year high. During the final quarter alone, housing starts at 1,840 were up one-third year on year.
KAP Properties was set up in 2014 and has built several developments in Downpatrick.
The new Saul Acres housing scheme will be built across three phases in the next two years, with phase two going on sale next month.
Philip Polly, director of KAP Properties, said: "The first-time buyers market is experiencing a resurgence in the Downpatrick area.
"We've completed 20 units on our first site and we had people camping outside the estate agents the day before they went on sale."
Paula Owens, business manager at Danske Bank, said: "KAP Properties is a relatively young company but it has built an impressive reputation in a short time.
"Philip is known for creating properties to a high standard that are priced competitively in a challenging market.
"This new housing development will be welcome news to people in the local area."