Belfast Telegraph

Misery grows for real estate sector as 1,000 jobs go in the last 12 months


Around 1,000 people have left the real estate industry in Northern Ireland in the past year, it can be revealed.

The figure is in stark contrast to a huge increase of 77,000 people joining the trade in the UK, which has sparked fears of a potential housing boom.

According to the Office for National Statistics the industry has decreased from having 9,000 employees in June 2012 to 8,000 in June 2013.

Across the water there was a completely different trend, with a surge from 485,000 to 562,000.

Michael Young, a partner at TempletonRobinson estate agents said these figures make sense to him.

"The reason it has decreased is purely for market conditions. There have been less transactions and therefore less need for agents.

"It's only now, in the last six months, where things have properly begun to turn around that we are starting to employ again."

He continued: "We made our redundancies in 2008/9 but in the last 12 months our numbers wouldn't have changed.

"People were probably able to hang on for a period of time, for a little bit of the aftermath of the good days and then the last 12 months and before that, it was very tricky," Mr Young added.

On the opposite side of the coin Paul McCullough, director of Leicester estate agents Keywest in England, told the Belfast Telegraph that the UK's increase in employment indicated a signal of an ongoing "mini-revival".

Further fears of another emerging real estate boom were heightened after a report from the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recommended The Bank of England should limit annual house price inflation to 5%.

It was in a bid to prevent housing bubbles across the UK, reckless bank lending and a dangerous build up in household debt.

RICS say that the main aim is to recreate "public confidence" which they believe will be the success of this strategy.

Tom McClelland, of RICS Northern Ireland said: "Northern Ireland knows only too well the dangers of excessive house price growth.

"Although the local housing market is currently some way off that scenario potentially arising again, putting appropriate safeguards in place now would be welcome."

Michael Devlin, managing director of Hampton Estates in Belfast, said while it was premature to comment on the longevity of the RICS suggestion, the housing climate was slowly recovering.

"The recommendation will be to try and avoid a property price explosion which obviously resulted in a recession and it's to try and avoid a property boom.

"Locally the market has improved quite considerably and there are signs of consumer confidence returning.

"There are definitely no fears of another bubble at the moment, it will be slow and cautious but we are still recovering," he said.

Michael Young added: "As long as the banks are sensible in their lending criteria I don't see how you would need a 5% cap but in theory it's a good idea."


Richard Ramsey, chief economist at Ulster Bank, said that Northern Ireland is still recovering from the knock-on effects of the global recession but the housing boom was a result of its own problems.

"There were all issues there which were going to have a negative impact on the economy but the demise of Lehman Brothers just exacerbated it," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph