Surveyors at Rics expect positive 2017 for Northern Ireland housing market

Activity in the north's housing market will pick up during the next quarter according to the latest Rics survey
Andrew Madden

HOUSE sales in Northern Ireland are expected to increase over the next three months, according to surveyors.

The latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) and Ulster Bank residential market survey reported that 25 per cent more surveyors expected sales to continue to rise than those who didn’t.

The same amount expected prices to continue to rise, marking the sixth consecutive month of positive reports.

But housing supply remains a concern as instructions to sell were generally flat in December – despite the amount of new buyers coming on to the market increasing from the fourth month in a row, pointing to a gap in supply and demand.

Rics residential property spokesman Samuel Dickey said that while the forecast was positive, there are potential geo-political bumps in the road ahead in 2017.

"Rics has forecast that house prices in the UK will rise by around 3 per cent this year, and we anticipate a not dissimilar growth trajectory in Northern Ireland," he said.

"2017 will be a year of economic challenges, linked to political events, but the fact that supply isn’t currently meeting demand should lead to prices edging upwards, while transaction activity in 2017 is expected to be stable."

At the end of the year experts warned of "real tests" in 2017 amid uncertainty over unemployment, inflation and the wider economy post-Brexit.

Furthermore, Theresa May’s Brexit plan, which she announced on Wednesday, did little to dispel concerns over the future for the UK economy once the process for exiting the UK begins in March.

Sean Murphy, managing director of branch banking at Ulster Bank, recognised issues in the market surrounding the vote last June, however remained positive for the future.

"2016 saw events of considerable significant for the housing market, including the changes in stamp duty and the EU Referendum, which combined to impact on confidence and activity in the middle of the year," he said.

"The Northern Ireland housing market however enters 2017 with the anticipation of growth in both prices and transactions, and our own expectation at Ulster Bank is for strong mortgage demand, with the ongoing a very low interest rate environment and peoples’ desire to own their own home."

According to Nationwide Building Society, property values in Northern Ireland edged up by less than one percentage point to an average of £129,385 during the last quarter of 2016, in the previous quarter prices were up 2.4 per cent against the year before.

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