North's house prices fall at sharpest rate in five years
HOUSE prices in the north have fallen at their sharpest rate in five years according to new official figures.
The latest House Price Index report released by NISRA (Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency), covering April through to June has revealed a 1 per cent fall in prices in comparison to the start of 2018, with the average house price in the north now sitting at £132,795. The quarterly fall, which equates to roughly £1,300, is the sharpest since 2013, but the current price remains 4.4 per cent higher than the same period a year ago.
Only the Causeway Coast and Glens, Derry City and Strabane and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council areas recorded an increase in price over the quarter according to the figures. The Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon area is the cheapest to buy with a standard house priced at £117,869, while at the other end of the scale those living in Lisburn and Castlereagh can expect to pay £158,690 on average.
There were a total of 5,308 residential properties sold in the north during the second quarter of the year, almost 800 than the figure recorded last year.
Ulster Bank chief economist, Richard Ramsey said although the figures show a quarterly decline in house prices, the yearly rise, which is above the UK average, is of greater significance and bad news for first-time buyers.
"Significantly, house price inflation continues to outpace annual earnings growth and consumer price inflation. This fact coupled with strong private sector rental inflation makes it more difficult for those not on the property ladder to gain their first foothold of home ownership. House prices for first-time buyers are becoming less, not more, affordable."
"The most encouraging signs in the housing market concern transactions and the scale of house building. These are more meaningful from a Northern Ireland-economy perspective than simply looking at movements in prices," Mr Ramsey added