Northern Ireland housing market records busiest month since 2007

The site in Belfast's Titanic Quarter earmarked for a consortium bid to build 800 homes.
Ryan McAleer

MARCH was the busiest month for the north’s housing market since the height of the 2007 property boom, new figures from HMRC have confirmed.

There were 3,540 residential property transactions during the month, 78 per cent higher than March 2020 and the strongest month for sales since June 2007.

It averaged 154 homes sold for each working day during March.

The 8,390 residential properties exchanged during the first three months of 2021 also represented the busiest first quarter since the start of 2007.

Ulster Bank’s chief economist Richard Ramsey said that unlike the last property boom, the surge in activity represented a catch-up from the lockdown-induced record slump in the second quarter of last year, where sales plunged by 67 per cent.

“The pent-up demand has been boosted by fresh demand from outside of Northern Ireland stemming from the post-Covid-19 opportunities of working from home," he said.

“A temporary reduction in the stamp duty land tax has also provided an added incentive for the more expensive and typically larger properties.”

The latest official data on house prices in Northern Ireland showed a 5.3 per cent annual rise to £148,000 in the final quarter of 2020.

HMRC’s data also revealed a spike in commercial property activity during March. The 420 non-residential properties sold during the month represented the busiest month since April 2008.

The fresh data comes as a consortium moved ahead with plans to develop 800 waterfront apartments next to Titanic Belfast.

The £48 million project involves Lacuna Developments, the Watkin Jones Group, Titanic Quarter Limited and Belfast Harbour.

The group has already held discussions with Belfast City Council and has now initiated the pre-planning process, which will enable the public to provide feedback.

The homes are expected to a mix of private rented accommodation ranging from studios to one, two and three bed units spread across three blocks.

Some 20 per cent will be comprised of social or affordable housing.

Meanwhile Banbridge property developer Lotus has launched a similar pre-application process for a major housing development in the Co Down town.

The £15m Edenbrook project next to the Rifle Park rugby grounds will inclide around 176 houses.

Co Tyrone construction group McAleer and Rushe was previously granted planning permission to build 211 houses on the site.

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