House price growth 'eases to lowest level this year' in Northern Ireland says survey

New buyer inquiries for house purchases are falling in Northern Ireland, which surveyors are blaming on higher interest rates
New buyer inquiries for house purchases are falling in Northern Ireland, which surveyors are blaming on higher interest rates

A THIRD of property professionals in Northern Ireland say new buyer inquiries are falling rather than rising - and they are laying it at the door of higher interest rates.

More respondents noted a decline in agreed sales during July, the weakest reading for the sales measure since the early stages of the pandemic, according to data in the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) regional survey suggest.

And the 16 per cent cent of respondents who said they'd seen an increase in house prices was just a fraction of the corresponding figure from a year ago (80 per cent).

“These findings show the extent of the change in market sentiment over the past year, with higher mortgage rates having a clear impact,” said Samuel Dickey, Rics' regional residential property spokesman.

“But the Northern Ireland market still appears to be in a stronger position than other parts of the UK, currently with a positive net balance for prices.

“And unlike in other areas, Northern Ireland surveyors are relatively upbeat about the prospects for prices and activity in the months ahead.”

Rics chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “The recent uptick in mortgage activity looks likely to be reversed over the coming months if the feedback in this latest residential survey is anything to go by.

“The continued weak reading for the new buyer inquiries metric is indicative of the challenges facing prospective purchasers against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, rising interest rates and a tougher credit environment.”

Some major mortgage lenders have been cutting rates this week, amid signs that stubbornly high inflation is easing.

HSBC UK, for instance, has cut some home-buyer, first-time buyer and remortgage rates on offer by up to 0.35 percentage points, as well as adding a £500 cashback incentive to some deals.

Meanwhile a separate study from property website Zoopla found that 42 per cent of non-home-owners aged under 40 have given up on the idea of getting on the property ladder in the next 10 years.

Even among those earning more than £60,000 a year, 38 per cent felt they would be unable to afford a home in the next decade.

Just over a fifth (21 per cent) believe they will definitely be able to afford a home in the next decade, while 14 per cent are planning to buy one, or in the process of doing so.

A quarter (25 per cent) believe they will probably be able to buy a home in the next decade, but are not certain, while nearly one in 10 said they are not sure and a further 3 per cent chose none of the survey answer options.