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Double whammy for Northern Ireland homeowners

Beleaguered Northern Ireland homeowners have been hit by a double blow after figures revealed house prices plummeted by 16% and Nationwide said it would not not pass on further cuts in interest rates to tracker mortgage customers.

The latest gloomy news emerged after mortgage lender Halifax said house prices across the UK plunged by 16.2% in 2008 — the biggest annual fall ever recorded.

In a second blow to households, the Nationwide Building Society said yesterday it will not pass on any further cuts in UK interest rates to most of its tracker customers.

The decision will affect about a quarter of a million of Nationwide's 1.5 million mortgage customers.

Campbell Morris, from Morris Estate Agents Ltd in north Belfast, who is a member of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), said that the developments were a “reality check” for homeowners and estate agents.

“A lot of estate agents have gone out of business because they were conditioned to work in a market you didn’t have to be tenacious — the property sold itself.”

“The biggest impediment to an increase in transactions — which is what is required in Northern Ireland — is consistent pricing.

“There are still very erratic pricing for similar properties.

“It is first time buyers that need to underpin the stability of the market.

“That’s why we had such a fantastic spike upwards and a traumatic spike downwards because the increase in the market was very much investor driven.”

Belfast Telegraph