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Activity picks up in the north’s housing market during January, new survey suggests

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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North’s housing market the best performing in the UK, new survey shows

HOUSE prices in the north have increased at the sharpest rate in the UK, according to a new survey.

The latest Nationwide figures show that the Northern Ireland market remains the best performing, with annual growth the strongest of all UK regions.

The average house price in the north between April and June was £143,343, 5.2 per cent more than the same period a year ago and greater than the 3.3 per cent increase recorded in the previous quarter.

Wales was next in the figures, reporting a 4.2 per cent jump to an average of £160,407, followed by Yorkshire and Humberside (3 per cent growth).

The UK as a whole reported muted growth of 0.6 per cent to an average of £215,910. This was heavily influenced by the English market, with prices roughly flat in the last quarter compared to a year ago.

London saw annual prices fall for the eighth quarter in a row between April and June – down 0.7 per cent, although that was an improvement on the 3.8 per cent drop seen in the previous three months.

Over the month between May and June UK house prices edged up 0.1 per cent between May and June, but there are concerns Brexit uncertainty is set to weigh on growth over the coming months

Property prices edged higher month on month in June to an average of £216,515 after adjustment for seasonal factors.

This marks an improvement on the 0.2 per cent monthly fall recorded in May.

But, the building society warned that, while low mortgage rates and a healthy jobs market will help support the property market, wider uncertainty in the economy will take its toll.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner said: “Survey data suggests that new buyer inquiries and consumer confidence have remained subdued in recent months.

“Housing market trends are likely to continue to mirror developments in the broader economy.

“While healthy labour market conditions and low borrowing costs will provide underlying support, uncertainty is likely to continue to act as a drag on sentiment and activity, with price growth and transaction levels remaining close to current levels over the coming months.”

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at the EY Item Club, said: “We believe, with Brexit being delayed until October 31 – and it currently very unclear what will happen then – and the domestic UK political situation unsettled, prolonged uncertainty will weigh down on the economy and hamper the housing market.

“Consumers may well be particularly cautious about committing to buying a house, especially as house prices are relatively expensive relative to incomes.”

Source: Irish News

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North’s housing market remains buoyant, but signs of Brexit-related slowdown

THE north’s housing market remains among the best performing in the UK, but there are signs activity is slowing, according to new figures.

The latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey shows that Northern Ireland maintained its position as the part of the UK with the highest balance of respondents reporting rising prices.

The survey further points to a rise in new instructions to sell, indicating that the supply of homes coming onto the market has picked up.

However there are signs that activity in the local market is slowing down, with new buyer enquires falling for a second month in succession and newly agreed sales broadly flat in January after a December decline.

In the short-term respondents in the north expect house prices to continue on an upward trajectory in the next three months, however the outlook for sales over the same period is subdued.

Looking further ahead and there is an expectation among surveyors that sales activity will be higher over the year.

RICS residential property spokesman in Northern Ireland, Samuel Dickey said Brexit is affecting the local housing market.

“Across the UK, Brexit is affecting surveyor confidence, and whilst sentiment in Northern Ireland has been stronger than other regions for some months, there is now some more caution evident in the market,” he said.

“However, whilst Northern Ireland surveyors suggest that sales activity may be lower in the three months ahead, they are much more positive when looking a year down the line, suggesting that they think any impact on the market from Brexit will be short-lived.”

Terry Robb, head of personal banking at Ulster Bank added:

“A lack of supply has characterised the Northern Ireland housing market in recent years, so a rise in new instructions is welcome and should provide more choice for buyers. Whilst it is perhaps not surprising that the wider environment is tempering sentiment amongst potential buyers at preset, surveyors in Northern Ireland remain confident about the market in the mid-term.”

Source: Irish News

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North records highest annual house price growth in the UK

THE north recorded the high annual house price increase in the UK at the end of 2018, according to new figures.

Northern Ireland was the strongest performer in the latest Nationwide Building Society index, with average house prices in the final quarter of the year up 5.8 per cent annually to £139,599.

The unparalleled growth in the north was in contrast to the overall picture in the UK, where the weakest annual growth was recorded in almost six years.

The 0.5 per cent increase to an average of £212,281 in December was the weakest since February 2013. That figure was also down 0.7 per cent month-on-month.

In London, the average house price in the fourth quarter of 2018 was £466,988 – 0.8 per cent lower than the same period in 2017.

The strong growth in Northern Ireland was followed by Wales and the east midlands, where prices lifted by 4 per cent annually to £156,891 and £184,283 respectively.

In Scotland prices grew by 0.9 per cent over the same period to an average of £147,856

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist said UK house price growth slowed noticeably as 2018 drew to a close.

“It is likely that the recent slowdown is attributable to the impact of the uncertain economic outlook on buyer sentiment, given that it has occurred against a backdrop of solid employment growth, stronger wage growth and continued low borrowing costs,” he said.

“Near term prospects will be heavily dependent on how quickly this uncertainty lifts, but ultimately the outlook for the housing market and house prices will be determined by the performance of the wider economy – especially the labour market.”

“The economic outlook is unusually uncertain. However, if the economy continues to grow at a modest pace, with the unemployment rate and borrowing costs remaining close to current levels, we would expect UK house prices to rise at a low single-digit pace in 2019,” Mr Gardner added.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club believes the housing market ended 2018 “very much on the back foot”.

“Brexit and economic uncertainty may well have an increased dampening on housing market activity in the near term at least.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said the figures are a wake-up call for the housing market.

“After steady progress, without much change one way or the other, prices have experienced a nasty bump.”

“Looking forward, this is always a fairly quiet time anyway for the market so the reasonable start we have had to business won’t be seen in the figures for at least the next month or so,” he added.

Source: Irish News

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Momentum in north’s housing market but supply remains ‘key challenge’

THE north was one of only two regions in the UK to report an increase in house prices over the last three months, according to new research.

The latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey has revealed that house prices continued to rise in the third quarter of the year and surveyors remain optimistic about the future, in spite of a lack of supply coming to the market.

A total of 44 per cent more surveyors said house prices rose, rather than fell between July and September, while 30 per cent more said they expect prices to increase over the next three months.

Northern Ireland was, along with Wales, the only regions in the UK where a rise was reported in the number of sales during September, but growth was relatively modest compared with previous months. It also remains the most optimistic region in the UK in relation to house sales in the final quarter of the year.

Despite the positives, new instructions to sell fell in September for the third month running, according to respondents. This indicates that the number of homes being put up for sale is declining.

RICS residential property spokesman, Samuel Dickey said the figures were broadly positive, but supply remains a “key challenge”.

“The market moves into the autumn with some momentum and good demand. Northern Ireland and Wales were the only areas reported to have seen a rise in sales during September and while the growth is modest, expectations remain firmly in positive territory for the last quarter of the year. The key challenge though remains supply, with surveyors continuing to indicate that availability of stock remains a problem.”

Terry Robb, head of personal banking at Ulster Bank added: “Mortgage demand remains high and we continue to work to support buyers smoothly though the mortgage process.”

Source: Irish News