8 August 2011

University of Ulster’s Northern Ireland house price survey reveals rising sales and falling prices


Northern Ireland house sales are on the rise while prices continue to fall – dropping 2.4% during the second quarter of this year, a report has revealed.

And canny Ulster house-hunters are taking advantage of the buyers’ market by offering bids below the asking price, according to the University of Ulster’s House Price Report.

The latest figures from the UU survey shows a hike in house sales from 925 in the first part of this year up to 1,062.

The average price of a home in the province was £137,814 in the second quarter of 2011, a decrease of over 15% on the same time a year ago.

The authors said a flood of repossessed homes onto the market has inevitably affected the report’s findings.

And leading local estate agent Simon Brien, director at BTWCairns, has claimed the high amount of increased activity in the well-priced starter home sector is the reason the average price has been pulled down.

While the figures point to the highest sales figure in the local housing market since 2007 and increased value for money, home-owners looking for house prices to increase anytime soon will probably be disappointed.

The housing market is also a different story depending on where you live with greater stability in Belfast, the Greater Belfast commuter belt and Lisburn, while provincial towns are experiencing fewer sales and more volatile prices.

Professor Alastair Adair said: “The expectation is that as demand starts to return to the market, price levels will follow – but with an inevitable time lag.”

Meanwhile, Alan Bridle, UK economist, Bank of Ireland, said: “The increased market activity of the last quarter at more affordable prices, partly driven by cash-buyers, is inevitably dragging the overall average price lower as a form of market clearing takes place.”

And Joe Frey, the Housing Executive‘s head of research, added: “The higher volume of transactions during the second quarter of 2011 is good news. However, it is important to be cautious.”

Mr Frey warned the full impact of public sector cuts, including reductions in Housing Benefit, have yet to be felt.

Estate agent Mr Simon Brien of BTW Cairns said: “We have agreed over 100 house sales in July, which is traditionally a quiet month, with the majority of those in the first-time buyer sector priced from £100,000-£175,000. Any price drop needs to be looked at in consideration of what is selling that are starter homes. That is what is pulling house prices down.”

South Belfast is still the most desirable place in the province to live with the average cost of home there £217,631, with north Belfast the cheapest place to live – the average price of a house there is £93,162. All house types have fallen in value, but the gap is closing with less dramatic price drops than previously seen.

  • There were 1,062 house sales between April and June compared to 925 between January and April this year
  • Sale levels between April and June this year the highest since the end of 2007
  • The report says there has been a boost from house repossession sales where properties tend to be sold more cheaply
  • Overall average price £137,814 in January-April, down 15% from a year ago – compared to £240,408 four years ago
  • Sales were healthier in parts of Belfast and Lisburn – but country areas had less sales and pricing was “more volatile”
  • South Belfast had the strongest house price performance at an average of £217,631, while North Belfast was lowest at £93,162


View the full report

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