Queue for new homes 'shows Northern Ireland housing market on up'
As the sight of hopeful house buyers camping out in a street overnight to secure the home of their dreams returns to Northern Ireland, one leading estate agent reckons the property market here has turned a corner.
Prospective buyers queued overnight at estate agent Simon Brien Residential for a chance to buy in the new Castle Hill development off east Belfast's Ballygowan Road.
The development offers three and four-bedroom homes, which blend affordable living with quick access to the city.
Priced from £210,000 to £285,000, just 12 properties are available in the first phase of the development. Eventually 130 new homes will be built.
A quarter of the homes were snapped up within hours yesterday, with more in the pipeline.
"Five Castle Hill homes were sold this morning, as well as three at Red Hall Lane in Belmont, another new build development that went on release from us yesterday," said Simon Brien, a partner in the agency.
Mr Brien said that the level of demand for new build homes was now so strong that he expected to have booked £3m in sales in 48 hours from three new housing developments that have just gone on the market.
Castle Hill and Red Hall Lane were launched yesterday, while a further development - Hollymount Hall at Saintfield - will be on release from today. The Red Hall Lane houses, which are off Belfast's Circular Road, are in the £465,000-£600,000 bracket, while the Hollymount Hall homes are priced between £235,000 and £325,000. Mr Brien was bullish about the direction of the local housing market - now 17.5% higher than two years ago, according to analysis from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
"It's very positive," he added. "There has been a dearth of new builds coming onto the housing market.
"It's only in the last few months that we have seen these new build schemes beginning to come through, and there's been a lot of interest.
"We're now seeing the recovery filtering out beyond Belfast to the country towns.
"It's good to see that happening province-wide, and not just in Belfast.
"There's a real buzz around. It's good to see it."
Mr Brien said he was expecting early morning queues today for Hollymount Hall, which is near to the National Trust gardens at Rowallane.
"It's a brand new release, within walking distance of Saintfield town centre and Rowallane," he said.
"We're anticipating a lot of interest."