Average house price in Northern Ireland rises to £162,914 - but confidence is waning

Average house prices in Northern Ireland are up 1.2 per cent from this time last year to £162,914, according to the UU's latest quarterly bulletin
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE overall average house price in Northern Ireland currently stands at £162,914, virtually unchanged on the previous quarter but a 1.2 per cent higher than this time last year, according to latest market research from the Ulster University.

But while affordability in the housing market continues to support a healthy level of transactions, the ongoing political stalemate is continuing to affect consumer confidence - and estate agents fear this will start to influence the buoyancy of the market over the coming months.

The UU quarterly study, produced in partnership with Progressive Building Society and the NI Housing Executive, is acknowledged as the most accurate regular barometer of the residential housing market (it studied 1,922 transactions).

Estate agents’ market observations this quarter have been dominated by the ongoing Brexit paralysis and the accompanying uncertainty. There remains a perception that vendors, purchasers and investors are perhaps more reluctant to commit to a sale or purchase, and that the sales process is perceptibily more fragile.

Agents across the region have also observed that the market is still considerably first-time-buyer focused, and they said the ‘bank of mum and dad’ is still very much in evidence among this cohort.

The distribution of sale price this quarter broadly reflects the previous quarter, with the share of lower priced properties below £100,000 equating to 22 per cent.

Properties sold at or below £150,000 accounted for 55 per cent of transactions, compared to 58 per cent in the previous survey.

For the higher price brackets, 78 per cent of transactions are at or below £200,000, while 90 per cent of properties sold at or below £250,000 and 95 per cent below £300,000.

The breakdown of the regional analysis highlights a considerable price variation within the north's 11 local council areas.

The Lisburn and Castlereagh district was the highest house price region (£183,495) compared to Derry City & Strabane which saw the lowest (£135,326).

The western sub-markets of Fermanagh & Omagh saw slightly lower than average house prices (£159,191) in comparison to Mid- Ulster (£163,200).

The south of Northern Ireland is a varied picture also, with average house prices in the Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon region standing at £135,913 and moderately higher prices in Newry, Mourne & Down (£158,669).

Lead researcher, Dr Martin Hinch from Ulster University said: “The first quarter indicates continuation of the more muted market behaviour observed towards the end of 2018.

“While political and economic uncertainties locally and on the wider UK level appear to be causing a degree of hesitance among vendors and purchasers, the market dynamics remain positive and reflect a resilient housing market.”

Michael Boyd, deputy chief executive and finance director at Progressive Building Society, warned: “While economic conditions in Northern Ireland support the outlook of an affordable housing market, the duration of political inactivity will start to influence the buoyancy of the market over the coming months.”

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