Belfast Telegraph

First Trust Bank backs Property Awards for third year as housing market leads way in UK

By Stephanie Bell

From offering competitive mortgages to delivering support to developers, First Trust Bank has been championing growth in Northern Ireland's property market through financial support and expert advice.

This support also extends to recognising other organisations making an impact in the sector, which is why First Trust Bank is proud to sponsor the Residential Development of the Year category at the Belfast Telegraph Property Awards for the third year in a row.

Recent figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reports that the local housing market is the most confident in the UK, with five years of increasing prices and predictions of more growth to come.

This optimism tallies with the latest UK Finance figures which reports that Northern Ireland has seen the highest growth in house purchase activity across the UK.

Speaking about buoyancy in the market, Derek Wilson, head of mortgage strategy and distribution at First Trust Bank and chair of the UK Finance NI Mortgage Committee explains: "Northern Ireland is fast becoming the poster child for access to affordable property.

"While there is a continued demand for new build properties, buyers benefit from a competitive and flexible mortgage market, with low interest rates and a range of products including free legal advice and valuation as well as no fees.

"Our mortgage partners have direct access to a named underwriter and we offer 95% loan to value including for new builds - a particularly important service given the demand for new dwellings."

While he points to an interest in new builds, he also highlights the growth in demand for semi, detached and terrace properties.

"We are seeing market growth at all levels right across Northern Ireland, not just in Belfast, with a particular demand for properties west of the Bann as the area recovers from a historic under-supply of properties," he says.

"While there is a low level of new builds, the quality of the developments being established is impressive and a reflection of the high level of craftmanship and project management skills evident in the sector."

First Trust Bank remains optimistic about the local housing market, with Derek explaining that by supporting local developers, investors and the residential market, they help create a more robust marketplace that is able to meet demand. He adds: "Our own team of property experts is growing, with Fionnuala Brennan, who looks after First Trust Bank's existing book, and Clare Stokes, who leads all new property lending.

"First Trust Bank has continued to increase its support of residential development finance to corporate clients this year as well as providing mortgage finance to hundreds of first-time buyers and home movers.

"Our advice to those operating in the sector, whether you are an experienced house builder or a new developer, is to engage with one of our property experts as early as possible to avail of tailored support and advice."