Houses prices in Northern Ireland 'to be fastest rising in UK'
Northern Ireland house prices will rise faster than elsewhere in the UK over the coming months, industry experts have said.
A 4% increase has been predicted by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) because of a lack of available homes and a hike in the number of new buyer inquiries.
The RICS and Ulster Bank residential market survey also said that houses were not coming onto the market in significant numbers.
RICS spokesman Samuel Dickey said the local market was continuing its recovery, both in terms of activity and average prices.
"There are economic challenges ahead which will likely act as headwinds for the housing market, but our view remains that prices will increase over the course of the year by some 4%," he said.
Derek Wilson, head of lending products at Ulster Bank, said that after a "muted" first quarter, the indications were that April and May had been stronger in terms of activity.
"These have been robust months for mortgage demand, and that trend appears to be continuing into June," he said.
"Our aim is to offer choice to customers and to support them in making the financial decisions that are right for them.
"That's why we have launched our biggest-ever range of mortgage options, with some of our lowest-ever rates, as well as a new seven-year fixed range."
A net balance of 60% of Northern Ireland surveyors said that prices rose in the past three months - which was higher than all other UK regions - while 43% said that they expected them to continue rising in the three months ahead.
In terms of newly agreed sales, 35% of local surveyors said they rose in April, and 8% expected them to increase in the three months ahead.
After a sustained period of downturn from 2007 to 2013, there has been renewed confidence in the Northern Ireland housing market in 2015 - in the private resale and new development sectors.
Experts have observed a "particularly strong demand" in the new homes sector in the past six to nine months.
This has been attributed to the fact that there has been significantly less building during the downturn, and the fact that buyers are now keen to buy because, with house prices averaging 55-60% at the peak of the market, they feel that purchasing a new home reflects an excellent secure investment.
Local estate agent Simon Brien said there had been "exceptional demand" for new homes this year.
"All of the buyers are private families and first-time buyers who have been waiting for new homes in their chosen area," he said.
"In many instances, buyers are keen to buy a new home due to low maintenance, energy efficiency, the opportunity to personalise their kitchens and bathrooms, and the fact that most new houses today are 'turnkey' and ready to walk into."
Simon Brien Residential recently launched several new housing schemes, securing more than £26.5m in sales within days.
These include the Harberton Park development, situated on the former Balmoral Showgrounds in south Belfast, where 14 houses were booked at prices ranging from £495,000 to £725,000. Another example is Bracken Hill in south east Belfast, where 32 houses sold within days of a recent phase release.
In April Simon Brien (above) Residential launched the £70m Belvoir Park development, with 27 houses selling out within days. It is located at the site of the former Belvoir Park Hopital, covering 65 acres. The overall scheme comprises approximately 300 properties.
Find out more about these properties at propertynews.com