Confidence returns to housing market

The average house sale price in East Antrim is now £128,685 according to the latest Ulster University Quarterly House Price Index.

The survey, carried out by the University of Ulster, Bank of Ireland UK and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, has confirmed that “confidence has returned” to the province’s housing market.

The average sale price is up by 7.8 per cent compared to the final quarter of 2013 with the recovery described as “well entrenched”.

All property types show higher average prices over the year with detached houses up by 9.3 per cent to £206,935, semi-detached houses up by 7.9 per cent to £121,254, detached bungalows up by 2.8 per cent to £145,346 and apartments up by six per cent to £84,432.

The terrace/townhouse sector is largely unchanged, up 0.5 per cent to £69,890.

The survey covering the last quarter of 2014 put the average cost of a house in Northern Ireland at £143,675, an annual rise of 5.7 per cent

The survey showed that the volume of house sales in October, November and December has remained strong, with 1,917 transactions recorded from the panel of estate agents across Northern Ireland, “comparable” to previous quarters in 2014.

The authors of the report, Professor Alastair Adair, Dr John McCord, Professor Stanley McGreal and Dr David McIlhatton, of the University of Ulster, said: “With a weighted annual increase of 5.7 per cent, the analysis of the last quarter of 2014 confirms the increasingly vibrant housing market.

“Significant rates of price growth have been sustained throughout the year and transaction volumes are at healthy levels compared to the pre-financial crisis period.”

Alan Bridle, UK Economist at Bank of Ireland UK, said: “The housing market is entering 2015 with some momentum, although there are variations specific to some areas.

“Despite the narrative of austerity, the steady recovery of the market should be underpinned by higher employment levels, a modest recovery in real incomes, strong competition in the mortgage market and the changes to stamp duty announced in December.”

The report has also pointed out at although prices have been “recovering steadily”, the market remains “highly affordable” and the proportion of properties sold at or below £150,000 was unchanged on the previous quarter at 69 per cent.

The Housing Executive’s head of research, Joe Frey, commented: “The analysis of the data for final quarter of 2014 provides further evidence of recovery in Northern Ireland’s housing market, but this recovery has varied very significantly between local housing markets. A more buoyant labour market will be the key factor which will determine the rate of recovery going forward.”