HOUSING transactions in Northern Ireland were at just a quarter of their 2019 of levels during April, May and June, which saw the market essentially close due to the coronavirus pandemic, new research shows.
But the latest quarterly house price index report from Ulster University has pointed to prices stabilising, with the market displaying "high levels of activity" as it re-emerges from the lockdown.
Although there was a slight reduction in prices during the second quarter, the overall market is 5.8 per cent higher than in the same period in 2019, with the average price across all property types in the north being £175,551.
And despite a predicted recession, the report's authors insist the residential property market is in a much better position to face economic upheaval than it was 10 years ago and remains one of the most affordable regions in the UK to purchase a home.
Average prices for detached houses increased by 5 per cent over the quarter, though apartments, terrace and semi-detached sectors all decreased
The impact of Covid-19 on housing market has been volatile and more evident in some market areas.
For example, the survey points to a 19.4 per cent decrease on average prices in the Antrim & Newtownabbey council areas whereas prices soared by 23.4 per cent in Fermanagh and Omagh.
The University analysis, conducted in partnership with the NI Housing Executive and Progressive Building Society, says the market has witnessed "strong levels of enthusiasm" as well as a marked uplift in transactions since its reopening.
Lead researcher Dr Martin Hinch said: “Despite the challenges imposed by the lockdown, the Northern Irish housing market has re-emerged displaying the same buoyancy and demand that was apparent in the first quarter, most likely due to an accumulation of delayed transactions from pre-lockdown sales and new interest generated during the period of inactivity.
“Market stability and resilience appear to be continuing, with only a slight reduction in price over the quarter, and an annual increase compared to quarter two in 2019.
“The scale and impact of the economic recession will determine the direction of the market moving forward and its degree of resilience.”