Demand for buying homes rose sharply last month, new survey suggests

The latest monthly survey from RICS and Ulster Bank points to increased housing market activity in May

Red estate agent sign outside residential street of houses with 'For Sale' text
A net balance of 48% of respondents to the latest RICS survey reported that new buyer enquiries had risen through the month of May. (Getty/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Homebuyer demand in the north rose last month at the fastest rate since the end of 2021, a new property industry survey suggests.

A net balance of 48% of respondents to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey reported that new buyer enquiries had risen through the month of May.

It compared to 19% and 31% the two previous surveys.

The latest survey conducted among property professionals, found a net balance of 44% noted an uplift in new instructions to sell during May, the highest this balance has been since the summer of 2020.

The latest official HMRC data showed the number of homes sold in the north fell between March and April this year.

HMRC recorded 1,670 residential property transactions in Northern Ireland during April.

It compared to 2,060 tracked by the monthly government report during March, making it the first month in 2024 where activity has decreased.

The latest RICS survey suggests an increase in activity during May, but surveyors still reported anecdotally that there is not sufficient stock to meet the demands of new buyers.

The survey also suggested prices continued to rise in May.

Analysis from Halifax published last week indicated house prices in the north increased by 3.2% in the year to May 2024.

But the rate prices are increasing appears to be easing in each passing month of 2024.

The official house price index for Northern Ireland put the average cost of a home in the north at £178,499 in the first quarter of 2024.

Commenting on its survey, the residential property spokesperson for RICS in the north, Samuel Dickey, said: “We saw through May that demand for housing remains strong, and whilst supply was also on the up, interest for residential property is still outstripping available properties.

It’s encouraging to see surveyors reporting an increased number of new builds coming to the market anecdotally, despite reported challenges with planning delays and the ongoing waste water infrastructure deficit.”