Prices may still be around half of their pre-recession peak, but demand seems to be hotting up for property in Northern Ireland. Perhaps because of the low relative costs compared with the rest of the UK, average prices in the province are ticking up.
The price balance for the December Housing Market Survey for Northern Ireland, compiled by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) was at its highest since April 2007. Two-thirds of respondents reported prices rising, with the other third saying prices were flat. None said they had dropped.
A net balance of 62 per cent of surveyors said that prices were up in the three months to the end of December, according to the survey.
RICS spokesman Samuel Dickey said: “There was a real contrast in how 2013 started and ended, according to the survey. January 2013 was the latest in a long line of months in which the survey reported a price balance in negative territory.
“However, fast-forward to the end of the year and the data is considerably more positive. The housing market has followed a similar trajectory to the economy as a whole, with the second half of 2013 showing real signs of recovery.”
The trend of improvement is expected to continue this year, with RICS expecting Northern Ireland house prices to rise by an average of four per cent during the year.
Meanwhile, this rise in demand is also creating job opportunities for anyone moving to Northern Ireland from abroad. According to a separate RICS report, the construction sector recovery continued apace in the final three months of the year, with some skills shortages being reported.
In particular, Northern Ireland chartered surveyors reported shortages in quantity surveying skills, explained Jim Sammon, RICS Northern Ireland construction spokesman.
He added: “In relation to skills, quantity surveyors are involved in all aspects of the construction supply chain, so when construction activity begins to pick up, demand for quantity surveyors is particularly quick to recover.”