Slow growth in prices recorded in north's housing market

The average price of a home in the north has increased by 1.2 per cent in 12 months

THE average price of a home in the north has increased at a slow pace of just 1.2 per cent in 12 months according to the latest figures from Ulster University.

The university's Quarterly House Price Index report for October, November and December, produced in partnership with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Progressive Building Society, has revealed nominal growth for the end of 2017, with the overall average price for a house now £158,285. This represents a 5 per cent jump from the same period in 2016.

However, allowing for differences in sample mix by property type, the weighted increase over the year and the preferred measure for these surveys is a more modest 1.2 per cent.

The distribution of sale prices is similar to the previous quarter with 25 per cent of sales at or below £100,000. The percentage of properties sold at or below £150,000 meanwhile has declined to 58 per cent compared with 60 per cent in the previous quarter.

For the higher price bands, 80 per cent of transactions are at or below £200,000, while 89 per cent were sold at or below £250,000 and 93 per cent at or below £300,000.

The market share by property type remains broadly consistent with previous reports, with semi-detached houses making up 34 per cent of the total and terrace/townhouses accounting for 22 per cent of transactions. In last three months of 2017 there were a total of 2,219 transactions according to the survey.

The north Belfast area was the cheapest place to buy a home in 2017, with an average price of £108,734 over the year and £114,846 for the last three months of 2017.

South Belfast is the most expensive area to buy a home in the north, with an average price of £210,206 recorded at the end of 2017.

Professor Stanley McGreal from Ulster University believes the mood in the local market is relatively positive.

"In terms of estate agent perceptions, there is a perspective that 2017 had been largely a good year for the local housing market, with property turning over at a reasonable rate and price levels sustained. This has been translated into a feeling of short-term confidence among those in the industry concerning prospects for 2018."

“However, looking at the market with a medium-term perspective, there is still considerable uncertainty as to what impact, if any, Brexit will bring and whether the likely transition arrangements will soften or defer any such impact down the line," he said.

Progressive deputy chief executive, Michael Boyd said the local housing market’s sustainable growth in 2017 reflects the affordability that prevails both in urban and regional locations.

"Following a strong uplift in Q3 2017 of 8.3 per cent, Q4 saw a decline in house price sales of 3.4 per cent. This is nevertheless compatible with seasonal trends and the overall annual picture reflects a steady and confident market last year. That said there are a number of factors which will influence the market’s overall performance in 2018. One of the most pressing issues remains the long-term impact of Brexit with early clarity needed for businesses on the transition period and the long-term relationship with the EU.”

Karly Greene, head of research and equality at the Housing Executive, added:

“The housing market trends of the last year look likely to carry on into 2018, with a healthy level of transactions, a low but sustainable level of house price growth and – importantly – continued availability of relatively affordable options for first time buyers and newly forming households.”


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