NI housing market records busiest quarter since height of the property boom

Some 7,401 residential properties were sold in the north during last three months of 2020, the highest quarterly figure since the second quarter of 2007.
Ryan McAleer

THE Northern Ireland housing market recorded its busiest quarter since the height of the 2007 property boom, according to the latest official data.

A total of 7,401 residential properties were sold in the last three months of 2020 following two quarters stifled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Northern Ireland Research and Statistics Agency's (NISRA) latest house price index found the average amount paid for a house rose three per cent to £147,593 between the third and fourth quarters last year, finishing 5.3 per cent higher than the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2019.

Data published by the Office of National Statistics on Wednesday indicated that rent in Northern Ireland rose 2.7 per cent in the past year, higher than any other UK region.

NISRA said it expects the sale tally for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020 to be revised upwards when all data on house sales is finalised.

Even so, it's the busiest quarter for the housing market since the second quarter of 2007, when 9,322 homes were sold for a near record average of £216,751.

It followed the lockdown on the housing market during the second quarter of 2020, resulting in just 1,930 sales, one of the lowest quarters ever recorded here and lower than the worst months of the post-credit crunch era.

The pent up demand following the easing of restrictions, together with the marginal improvement in consumer confidence in Q4 2020, contributed to the largest quarterly rise in prices in five years.

A holiday on stamp duty has also factored into the sales figure, although the lower pricing of housing in the north meant the higher £500,000 threshold for the tax waiver had less of an impact.

The stamp duty holiday is due to end on March 31 2021, but there is speculation that the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak could extend the deadline in his March 3 Budget.

A total of 2,440 detached houses were sold in the final quarter of 2020, representing an annual rise of 20 per cent the highest quarterly figure since the end of 2006.

Sales of semi-detached houses were only marginally up year-on-year, but the 2,391 recorded in the house price index was still the most sold in a single quarter since the end of 2006.

The demand for detached houses in the north helped drive prices up by 6.1 per cent to £221,728, with terrace houses similarly rising 6.3 per cent in the last 12 months to £104,711.

Semi-detached prices rose 4.5 per cent to £142,496, while apartments increased at more modest 2.3 per cent to £111,892.

Recent analysis carried out by the industry in the north has pointed to greater demand for space and green space in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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