north's housing market
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ACTIVITY picked up in the north’s housing market during January, a new survey conducted within the industry suggests.

The first residential market survey of the new decade from RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank, found a rise in the number of new buyer enquiries and instructions to sell.

Largely based on the responses from Northern Ireland estate agents, the latest housing report follows two months of consecutive falls in newly agreed sales.

Optimism is also up within the sector, following the decisive win by the Conservatives in December’s general election and the restoration of the Stormont Executive.

But the rise in activity has prompted RICS to once again highlight the availability of housing stock as a key challenge within the market.

The body reported anecdotal response to the survey, citing an insufficient supply of resale properties.

Residential property spokesperson for RICS in Northern Ireland, Samuel Dickey, said: “There has been a clear improvement in sentiment in the housing market with local as well as national political developments likely to be a factor.

“The rise in new sales instructions coming onto the market is a noteworthy and much needed development, given the lack of fresh listings over the past few years.

“Political uncertainty may resurface towards the end of the year but, at this point in time, contributors are optimistic regarding the outlook for activity over the next twelve months.”

Head of personal banking at Ulster Bank, Terry Robb said the lender had noticed a rise in mortgage enquiries and interest in the early part of the year.

“This will likely translate into good sales activity in the months ahead, particularly if more homes come onto the market and available for sale.”

The Northern Ireland survey mirrored similar reports of positive uptakes in the housing market from across the UK.

Property portals OnTheMarket.com and Rightmove both recently reported seeing record traffic to their websites in January.

Last week, Halifax reported that UK house prices increased by 0.4 per cent month-on-month in January – although that report said that it was too early to say if a corner has been turned.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The latest survey results point to a continued improvement in market sentiment over the month, building on a noticeable pick-up in the immediate aftermath of the general election.

“The rise in new sales instructions coming onto the market is a noteworthy and much needed development, given the lack of fresh listings over the past few years had pushed stock levels to record lows.

“It remains to be seen how long this newfound market momentum is sustained for, and political uncertainty may resurface towards the end of the year.

“But, at this point in time, contributors are optimistic regarding the outlook for activity over the next 12 months.”

By Ryan McAleer

Source: Irish News

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