Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland housing market still 'optimistic' with growth in new builds strong

An artist’s impression of Woodbrook in Lisburn
An artist’s impression of Woodbrook in Lisburn
An artist’s impression of Brooke Hall Wood in Belfast
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland house prices have grown in May but political uncertainty is affecting confidence in the short-term, according to a survey today.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank survey said that after a strong period of price growth in recent years, uncertainty in the wider political and economic environment appears to have affected the market in the short-term.

But looking ahead, estate agents said they are confident that prices will still be going up in a year's time.

Thomas O'Doherty, a partner at Simon Brien, said it had seen "buoyant" activity for sales of new homes and resales in Belfast, Lisburn and the Ards area.

"Over the last couple of months, there's been a number of strong sales in most of our new developments," he added.

He said the agency had sold 12 homes in two weeks at the Brooke Hall Wood development on Saintfield Road, where homes were priced from £230,000 to £420,000. And in Lisburn, 36 homes had been sold since the start of the year at development Woodbrook, where homes are priced from £135,000 to £215,000.

In east Belfast, he said the agency had sold 53 homes in the new Castlehill development on Ballygowan Road over the last 12 months.

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He said resales of terraced homes in areas such as Belfast's Lisburn Road were also strong.

"It depends on the condition properties are in," he added. "If presented well and refurbished, you'll get bidding on it. But an older property, you'll have builders looking at it. Generally two beds on the Lisburn Road would start at £135,000 or £140,000, going up to £165,000."

Samuel Dickey, RICS residential property spokesman in Northern Ireland, said: "We have seen the housing market perform strongly in recent years in terms of price rises and activity, but there now appears to be significant variation in the market, with some surveyors reporting lower demand and lower levels of price rises in some areas. 

"My own experience is that there continues to be strong demand in places like north Down, Belfast, and Ards.

"Demand for new build homes continues to be a real feature of the market in these areas too."

Ciaran Donnelly of estate agents Campbell Cairns in Belfast said political uncertainty and the approaching holiday period were impacting the market.

Surveyors told RICS that new buyer inquiries and new instructions to sell were lower in May.

And while Northern Ireland had seen the highest number of surveyors of all UK regions reporting an increase in house prices in the last three months, it was now in fourth place.

Terry Robb, head of personal banking at Ulster Bank, said: "The summer period tends to be more subdued in terms of sales, as people embark upon summer holidays and a potential move is not as high on their agenda.

"We have, however, witnessed the ongoing strength in first-time buyer demand for mortgages and expect activity to remain strong into the second half of the year, particularly the self-build and co-ownership segments."

Belfast Telegraph