Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Property market a beacon amid Brexit

'The average price of a home in the final quarter of 2018 was a healthy 5.5% higher than in the same period 12 months earlier' (stock photo)
'The average price of a home in the final quarter of 2018 was a healthy 5.5% higher than in the same period 12 months earlier' (stock photo)

Editor's Viewpoint

Depending on which side of the argument you listen to, Brexit - if ever it comes about - will be economic Armageddon or the spur for the UK to become a world-leading trading power.

The continuing uncertainty over what sort of deal the UK may eventually leave with is doing no one any favours, but as far as the property market in Northern Ireland is concerned, the impact so far is marginal.

Indeed, according to a survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Ulster Bank, the province is performing strongly in comparison to the rest of the UK.

The average price of a home in the final quarter of 2018 was a healthy 5.5% higher than in the same period 12 months earlier.

Belfast saw the biggest increase in prices in the same period at 7.7%. Only one of the 11 council areas saw house prices fall during the final quarter of last year.

The survey shows a relatively buoyant market - the house price rises are realistic in the current economic climate and much preferable to the soaring rates which led to the economic meltdown in 2008, when house prices went into freefall.

The current property market is a bonus for first-time buyers as developers have become more competitive in their pricing and surveyors are suggesting that there will be an increase in first-time buyer properties coming on to the market.

It would be foolish to deny that there will be some challenges in the coming months until the Brexit puzzle is finally solved, and that is making some buyers adopt a wait and see attitude, which may lead to a minor slump.

However, in the longer term the forecast is that prices will rise over the next 12 months and sales will regain growth.

The report comes as The Sunday Times lists five Northern Ireland towns as among the most desirable places to live in the UK. Holywood is seen as the top spot to set up home - although houses there come with a hefty price tag, on average nearly twice the average.

The other des res hotspots are south Belfast, Enniskillen, Ballycastle and Hillsborough, which shows that not only is Northern Ireland outperforming the housing market in Britain, it also has some of the best places to live at bargain prices compared to those in other regions. There is a confidence in the province that, despite the challenges, the market remains relatively strong - and that is good news.

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