18 December 2015

Northern Ireland house prices up 10% in year, the biggest rise in UK


House prices in Northern Ireland leaped by 10.3% over the past year, making us the fastest-growing region of the UK, the latest official figures have shown.

Northern Ireland saw the cost of buying a home shoot up over the year to October.

But the “inflated” growth in the province should be taken with a dose of caution, according to Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey.

“It’s more startling than the headline suggests,” Mr Ramsey said.

“Rolling forward into 2016, Northern Ireland would do well if prices grow by half of that figure, probably less than 5%.

“When looking at regional comparisons, Northern Ireland is playing catch-up on a massive scale compared with the rest of the UK.

“It had the biggest downturn in UK history.

“So the bigger you fall, the easier it is to see a bigger increase off a lower base.”

He added: “It’s not more buoyant here.”

Prices here rose faster than England, Scotland and Wales, with costs on average throughout the UK increasing by 7%.

The average price of a property here still remains the lowest in the UK, sitting at £158,000.

That contrasts with an overall average of £286,000.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said millions of people across the UK were “stuck in expensive private renting because of our housing shortage, with barely enough money left over each month to pay for essentials, let alone save for a deposit”.

As expected, London prices soared past the half-a-million pound mark, rising to £531,000 in the last year.

Meanwhile, a group has predicted the average house price here could reach almost £190,000 in the next 10 years.

That is according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents’ and National Association of Estate Agents’ Housing 2025 report.

It also predicted rents would rise 27% from the current average of £134 a week.

David Cox, managing director of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, said: “Rent costs are already growing at a rate people are struggling to keep up with, and they’re due to become even less sustainable over the next decade.

“If we’re to see the property market lifted out of its current state, we need to help the rental market from top-down as well as bottom-up, ensuring landlords are not penalised for their choice of income and that they can in turn give tenants the best possible price and service they deserve.”

Elsewhere, the number of buy-to-let loans handed out in October was the highest since at least the start of 2013, banks and building societies reported. Some 24,800 loans with a collective value of £3.8bn were advanced across the UK in October, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said.

View this article and more at the Belfast Telegraph

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