HMRC: Sales activity in the north’s housing market fell 19% between March and April

Official figures show home sales up 7% year-on-year in April, but transactions bucked the wider UK trend in the fourth month of the year

Housing market
The slump in new build houses coming onto the north's property market in 2023 has been cited as a key factor in pushing up prices in early 2024.

The number of houses sold in Northern Ireland increased 7% year-on-year during April, but activity fell by 19% between March and April.

New figures from HMRC show there were 1,670 residential property transactions in the north during April 2024.

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

In contrast, activity in the wider UK housing market continued to rise for the fourth consecutive month, increasing by 5% between March and April.

A total of 6,930 dwellings were exchanged in Northern Ireland during the first four months of 2024, according to HMRC, slightly below the 6,960 sold in the same period in 2023.

Sales activity in April 2024 was also 17% down on April 2019, with sales in the year-to-date 14% below the same four months in 2019.

The latest official Northern Ireland House Price Index revealed last week that the average price of a home in the north increased by 0.4% in the first quarter of 2024, to an average of £178,499.

It followed a slight dip in prices at the end of last year.

One of the most significant factors in the north’s housing market in past year has been the low number of new homes coming up for sale.

Just 5,379 new dwellings were completed in Northern Ireland during 2023, the lowest since 1959.

A report published by Nationwide on Friday put the average price of a home in the UK at £264,249 during April, a 0.4% rise on March.

Nationwide said prices in April were 1.3% higher than a year earlier.

While the report had no regional breakdown, Nationwide’s March report said house prices in Northern Ireland grew by 4.6% year-in-year in the first quarter, the highest rate of any UK region.

The building society’s analysis put the average price at £181,303 in Q1 2024, slightly higher than the official index.

It comes after slight increases in mortgage rates since the start of the year slowed the housing market in recent months.

According to Moneyfacts, at the end of January, the average two-year fixed rate mortgage cost 5.56%, rising to 5.92% by the end of May.

Experts think the Bank of England is likely to cut interest rates August or September, while headline inflation eased to 2.3% in the 12 months to April 2024, down from 3.2% in the 12 months to March.

Meanwhile, Nationwide research showed that the upcoming General Election is unlikely to have a significant impact on house prices.

Previous polls have not affected underlying market trends, the research showed, as buyers sought to plough on with sales regardless of events in Westminster.