Property boost is good for everyone
The rise in house prices in Northern Ireland in the last three months is welcome news after six years of plummeting values. During that period we were constantly assured that prices could not drop any further, yet still they did. While one quarter's statistics have to be treated with some caution, there are grounds for believing that perhaps the corner has been turned and that residential property will begin the return to sensible values.
One ground for optimism is that the rise in prices was across all house types. Another is that sales reached their highest level for some time. Both of those are indicators of a returning confidence to the property market. Prices are still pitched at a reasonable level for first-time buyers which gives them the opportunity to get on the property ladder without a crippling mortgage.
But it is existing home owners, especially those with negative equity, who will most rejoice at the rise in price. If this is indeed the beginning of an upward trend, they can see the day when their home will again be an asset. Of course that day will be some considerable time off, as the spiralling home prices of the early part of the Noughties will not be readily repeated. Too many people have learned too harsh a lesson to engage in such madness again.
The next indicator to look out for is a resurgence in house building. That would indicate not only that demand is creeping up again, but that developers and their funders are also confident in the stability of the market. It would also provide badly needed employment as the construction industry was among the worst hit sectors when the last housing bubble burst.
Construction has traditionally been one of the mainstays of the labour market here but many workers have been forced to seek employment outside the province in recent years.
They will certainly be happy if demand for new homes increases.