Business

Uncertainty continues to creep into the north's housing market

Chartered surveyors in the north remain cautious over the performance of the housing market. Paul Faith/PA Wire
Ryan McAleer

THE picture for the north's housing market is increasingly mixed, according to a new survey across the sector.

The monthly analysis from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank is based on the opinions of those within the industry, including real estate agents.

The Residential Market Survey for September found that the number of newly agreed sales over the last month recovered to a slow incline.

New buyer enquiries remained in positive figures, however with instructions to sell continuing to decrease the report said the short-term forecast is increasingly cautious.

A continued lack of supply of housing across the north is perceived to be a key contributor in driving up prices. Prices remain on an upward trajectory, but at a slower rate than previously reported.

As a result, surveyors in Northern Ireland surveyors have projected that in the next three months prices will take a dip and sales will further decline.

On a more anecdotal basis, respondents to the survey commented on the recent resilience of the market despite looming Brexit concerns.

However it was noted that political developments over the next few months are expected to have an impact.

As a result, the 12-month outlook is uncertain, with surveyors predicting that prices will continue to rise. But based on last month's activity, they are recording an expected drop in sales.

Belfast based real estate agent Samuel Dickey, who speaks for RICS in Northern Ireland, said: “The strongest area of our housing market is undoubtedly new homes, which continue to perform well with strong levels of activity, particularly amongst first term buyers as the wider instructions to sell are relatively low.

“The mixed results are reflective of the divergence we have across Northern Ireland, with some geographical areas experiencing more positivity than others and the resale market feeling the effects of cautious would-be-sellers.”

Ulster Bank's head of personal banking, Terry Robb, added: “With first time buyers continuing to be a key component of the housing market in Northern Ireland - something that is reflected in the demand for new-build properties - it is important to note the upcoming deadline for the UK government's ‘Help to Buy ISA' at the end of November.

“This ‘Help to Buys ISA' offers first time buyers the chance to save tax-free for a deposit on their first home and to gain a further 25 per cent from the government, up to a maximum of £3,000 on savings of £12,000. Fully availing of the scheme provides a potential boost to many first time buyers as well as potentially to the NI housing market as a whole.”

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