Business

Ulster University index reveals slowdown in Northern Ireland's housing market as average price drops to £150,778

At the close of the year, the average house price in the north stood at £150,778. Picture by Andrew Matthews, PA Wire

HOUSE prices in the north suffered a significant slowdown in the final quarter of 2016, according to new figures.

Ulster University's latest quarterly house price index has revealed that there was a decrease of 1.3 per cent in the average house price for 2016 and a 2.6 per cent decrease over the final quarter of the year.

At the close of the year, the average house price in the north stood at £150,778.

The index also indicated an easing back in the volume of sales in contrast to the relatively buoyant conditions that prevailed at the start of the year.

The university's research is carried out in partnership with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Progressive Building Society and is collated from nearly 2,000 house sales from October to December last year.

Compared to prices elsewhere in the UK, however, the Northern Ireland housing market remained relatively affordable, with 65 per cent of properties sold at or below £150,000 and 30 per cent changing hands at or below £100,000.

While many regions experienced a decrease in their average house prices, there were several areas in which prices increased. East Antrim, Mid Ulster and Armagh were just some of the areas which saw a rise.

The region with the highest average house price in the final quarter of 2016 was south Belfast at £206,350, while the area with the lowest average price was north Belfast at £107,419.

Semi-detached properties took up the majority of the market share at 33 per cent, followed by terrace and detached houses at 25 and 20 per cent, respectively.

Lead researcher on the index, Professor Stanley McGreal from Ulster University, said the report is supported by estate agents who have a "mixed opinion" on the current state of the market.

"Their concerns could reflect the uncertainty of Brexit and the varying forecasts of the UK's GDP dropping," he said.

"Likewise, changes in taxation and stamp duty allowances brought forward in early 2016 may now be having a delayed impact on the market."

Michael Boyd, Progressive's deputy chief executive and finance director, said the last quarter of the year was traditionally a slower period for domestic property sales, but, on a positive note, transaction numbers remained relatively strong.

"At Progressive, mortgage application levels were 7 per cent higher for the last quarter of 2016 than 12 months ago," he added.

"Regionally the highest property prices and volumes continue in the Greater Belfast area.

"While eight regions across Northern Ireland witnessed a decrease in the average house price, the regions with increasing prices were predominantly those further from Belfast and those areas which had seen least price appreciation in previous quarters."

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