Housing market activity remains weak but prices still nudge upwards
PROPERTY professionals in the north have reported further falls in new buyer demand, sales and listings in the last month as activity in the region's housing market remains generally weak.
But despite the wider economic malaise and threats of further interest rate increases, they remain more confident about prices and activity during the next year than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.
The latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) and Ulster Bank residential market survey showed that new buyer enquiries fell in February when measured against January, and there were less newly-agreed sales. Surveyors also reported a decline in new instructions to sell.
However, house prices are still edging slightly upwards according to respondents.
And while this is significantly lower than this time last year, it is higher than in all other UK regions. Indeed, other than Scotland, respondents in all other UK regions are seeing prices falling.
In terms of the outlook, whilst Northern Ireland respondents expect the market to remain weak over the next three months, with further potential reductions in sales and prices, they are more positive about the 12-month outlook, one of only two UK regions (along with Scotland) expecting both sales and prices to be higher this time in 2024.
Rics' regional residential property spokesman Samuel Dickey said: “Unsurprisingly, the February survey outcomes point to overall relatively weak market conditions, albeit that there are of course variations between different parts of Northern Ireland, with some areas seeing ongoing good demand.
“Looking ahead, despite a range of economic challenges, respondents here remain more confident about prices and activity during the next year than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.”
Terry Robb, head of personal banking at Ulster Bank, added: “Market conditions have changed in the past year and demand has softened as a result. But there continues to be a wide range of mortgage borrowers who want to buy their first home, move house, or remortgage.”