House building levels rise to eight-year high at start of 2018
THE north's house building market has shown strong signs of recovery at the beginning of 2018, recording the highest number of new starts in eight years.
According to the latest figures released by Land & Property Services (LPS) there were 1,961 new dwellings started in Northern Ireland in the first quarter of the year, compared to 1,391 in the final months of 2017. It is also 4 per cent more than recorded in the same period a year ago, where the number of new starts totalled 1,887.
The Derry City and Strabane Council area was the most active for housing starts at the beginning of the year with 301, a striking 343 per cent increase on the same three months in 2017. Mid and East Antrim also recorded a significant increase of 82 per cent from the corresponding period a year ago, rising from 105 to 191.
Belfast recorded a more modest rise of 13 per cent year on year, from 115 to 130. Five of the 11 council areas recorded a fall in housing starts compared to the start of 2017.
Meanwhile the number of completed dwellings increased at the start of the year to the highest level since 2010. In all there were 1,713 completions in the first three months of 2018, a 15 per cent rise on the same period in 2017.
Derry City and Strabane posted growth of 163 per cent year on year, recording 176 completions in the first quarter of 2018, but trailed behind Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon (198) and Lisburn and Castlereagh (183) for the number of completed units. The latter two council areas saw the level of completions fall by close to one-quarter relative to Q1 2017. Belfast, meanwhile saw house completions rise by one third year on year.
Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the latest figures point to a continued recovery in the house building market, which suffered from a crash of almost 70 per cent between 2006 and 2011.
"Over 7,000 housing units have been completed over the last four quarters and 2018 looks set to see the most completed dwellings since 2009," he said.