Survey: Demand for new houses falls - but prices are still rising

Demand for new houses has fallen in Northern Ireland, but prices are still rising, according to a Rics survey
Demand for new houses has fallen in Northern Ireland, but prices are still rising, according to a Rics survey

PROPERTY professionals in Northern Ireland continue to report a reasonably firm upward trend in house prices - even though the pace of growth is softer than earlier in the year.

The latest monthly residential market survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) and Ulster Bank said demand for houses eased here for the fourth month running.

Indeed new buyer enquiries in October were half those of the previous month and newly agreed sales also fell.

It now takes 18 weeks on average to sell a property, up from 16 weeks typically a year ago.

But while demand has fallen, prices are still rising, according to the surveyors who contributed to the survey.

Some 72 per cent of respondents in the north indicated that prices had risen over the past three months, though the outlook has shifted for the next quarter with surveyors now more cautious.

Summing up the findings, Rics' regional residential property spokesman Samuel Dickey said: “Northern Ireland is seeing a continued easing in demand, which is unsurprising given the recent mortgage market turbulence and the time of year.

“Surveyors didn’t see the same levels of interest in October as we have been seeing throughout this year, which is also linked to limited supply.

“This limited supply is expected to be significant factor in the market for the foreseeable. And whilst demand is lower, we continue to see properties selling relatively well, and asking prices often being met.”

Rics chief economist Simon Rubinsohn added: “The latest feedback provides further evidence of buyer caution in the face of the sharp rise in mortgage costs. As a result, the volume of activity is likely to slip back over the coming months and realistic pricing is now much more important to complete a sale.

“The settling down in financial markets could provide some relief although it may be premature to assume this will be reflected in a reduction in lending rates anytime soon. But the employment picture remains critical to the medium-term outlook and for the time being, that remains solid.”

He added: “As far as the lettings market is concerned, the imbalance between demand and supply still appears unusually extended leading to rent expectations in the survey remaining at elevated levels and it is difficult to see this changing anytime soon in the current environment.”