Business

House prices continue to rise in Northern Ireland amid significant surge in demand

The increase in enquiries from new buyers during March was the sharpest increase in the 15-year history of the NI residential market survey.
Ryan McAleer

A SIGNIFICANT upsurge in demand for housing in the north continued to push prices up last month, according to the latest survey of industry professionals.

Research by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank found new buyer enquiries rose sharply during March.

The increase in enquiries from new buyers during the month was the sharpest increase in the 15-year history of the monthly Northern Ireland residential market survey.

The report featured anecdotal evidence that the supply of homes for sale is not sufficient to meet the current demand.

The result was a large proportion of property professionals reporting rising prices during March, with a similar level anticipating prices will continue to rise between April and June.

Figures published by HMRC last month showed the average price of a house in Northern Ireland rose 5.3 per cent throughout 2020 to just under £148,000.

HMRC’s data also showed year-on-year house sales in the north rose by 18.5 per cent during February ahead of the anticipated end of the stamp duty holiday.

The stamp duty holiday for England and Northern Ireland had been due to end on March 31, but in the March 3 Budget the holiday was extended in its current form, with the "nil rate" threshold at £500,000, until June 30.

Although less impactful than in England, the tax break appeared to factor into the rising demand for housing here.

Some 2,540 residential property sales were recorded in Northern Ireland in February 2021, compared with 2,070 in the same period last year.

RICS NI spokesperson, Samuel Dickey, said: “The results from the latest survey suggest the decision by the Chancellor to extend the stamp duty break and then taper its expiry has had some impact on demand and activity.

“However, underlying demand was already strong with people making up for lost ground from last year, and many seeking to move for more space.

“The survey’s indicators suggest that demand will also remain strong in the months ahead. One of the concerns in the market though continues to be limited supply.”

Terry Robb from Ulster Bank, said the lender encountered strong demand for mortgages during March.

“Despite the restrictions in place during the quarter, people have continued to apply for mortgages and move forward with home purchases and house moves; and of course there are remortgages happening as well.

“Looking to the three months ahead, our pipeline suggests that mortgage activity will continue to be strong.”

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