Property sales up 32 per cent on last year after easing of lockdown restrictions

The 7,200 properties sold between July and September was 32 per cent up on the same period last year, according to PropertyPal.
Ryan McAleer

ALMOST 7,200 properties were sold in the north during the three months following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, new analysis has found.

PropertyPal’s housing market trends report said the figure was 32 per cent higher than the third quarter (Q3) of 2019.

But the number of rentals over the same period was down 15 per cent on Q3 2019.

Sales of four and five bedroom homes have more than doubled compared with Q3 last year, with Belfast accounting for 1,300 total house sales.

Ards and North Down (930) and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (815) also reported high levels of activity in the third quarter, reflecting a potential pent up demand during the lockdown announced at the end of March.

The north’s housing market eventually reopened on June 15.

PropertyPal’s chief economist, Jordan Buchanan, said: “The rebound in activity reflects several contributory factors including, stamp duty holidays, favourable interest rate environment, pent-up demand over lockdown and behavioural shifts as buyers have revaluated their housing needs.

Data from the Office of National Statistics suggested on Wednesday that the average price of a house in the north had increased by three per cent (year-on-year) to £141,000 in July.

PropertyPal’s data pointed to a 1.8 per cent annual growth in house prices, rising by 1.1 per cent over July, August and September.

Ards and North Down recorded the sharpest increase in Q3 (3.1 per cent).

The average price of an apartment fell 1.3 per cent over the previous 12 months.

The report said the average price of an advertised property is £171,300.

PropertyPal's housing market overview for Q3 2020.

The average rent increased by 1.3 per cent in Q3, with the annual rate up by 3.7 per cent.

The average rent in the north is now £657, according to Property Pal, with the average house (£646) slightly cheaper than an apartment (£678).

But the 2,575 new rental properties that came on the market in Q3 was 15 per cent below Q3 2019.

Mr Buchanan said the analysis pointed to wealthier demographics driving demand for sales of four and five bedroom properties.

“First time buyers continue to experience a credit crunch and are increasingly excluded from accessing mortgage finance as most lenders now require upwards of 15 per cent deposits - equivalent to approximately £20,000 for a typical first home.

“The near-term housing market activity remains positive and is likely to be a stronger end to the year compared to ‘normal’ periods,” added the economist.

“However, tighter restrictions will hamper business activity and the labour market is expected to weaken later this year as government support unwinds. This will negatively impact economic performance and have implications for the housing market performance in 2021.”

In terms of the rental market, he said: “Rents are increasing against a backdrop of falling incomes which is creating affordability pressures for many households.

“The labour market profile suggests the pending economic damage is likely to have a greater impact on private renters than home-owners and this may lead to falling rents over the coming six months.”

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