House prices in Northern Ireland see strongest growth in the UK

Northern Ireland saw amongst the strongest pick-ups in house prices across the UK in the first quarter of the year, according to the latest RICS and Ulster Bank UK Residential Market Survey.

However, newly agreed sales and demand for property in the form of new buyer enquiries are both easing, with last month’s unseasonably bad weather a potential factor.

The number of surveyors saying that prices had risen in NI in the past three months was the highest in the UK and expectations for prices also remain positive but outlook around sales is flat, the survey found.

New instructions to sell saw an increase in March indicating that the number of people putting their properties on the market edge upwards, however this comes off a low base.

Samuel Dickey, RICS spokesperson for Northern Ireland, said: “There is continued upward pressure on prices with the lack of supply a factor, albeit that there has been a modest pick-up in but the number of properties coming onto the market.

“For the second month in a row, the survey indicates that there has been a dip in new buyer enquiries, but this is likely, at least to some extent, to reflect the particularly bad weather we had in March.

“That said, the economic and political environment is not short of uncertainty, which could be causing some people to pause regarding their homebuying intentions. But whilst sales expectations for the next three months are flat, price expectations remain positive, which indicates that surveyors think prices will continue to edge upwards.

“Looking ahead to the next 12 months, there is a reasonable amount of confidence among surveyors for an increase in sales and prices.”

Sean Murphy, managing director of personal banking at Ulster Bank, added: “The first quarter of the year has probably been a stronger one for the housing market than some had predicted, as it has been for the economy as a whole, and we have seen good mortgage demand as a result. It’s positive news for those who are seeking to buy or move home that surveyors are experiencing more properties coming onto the market, and with better weather later spring we would anticipate an uplift in mortgage applications.”