Northern Ireland Property Prices Rise by 7.9%

According to the latest House Price index from Nationwide, property prices in Northern Ireland increased at a quicker rate than elsewhere in the UK within the first three months.

Compared to the same time last year, prices within Northern Ireland have increased by 7.9%. The average property price is now £137,965.

Wales also witnessed a rise in prices also. These prices rose 6.1% to £151,971 from the same quarter last year.

This increase makes Wales the second-best performing country in the U.K.

Northern Ireland tops the UK-wide property prices

In Scotland, prices rose 0.2% to an average of £144,250.

England has seen an increase of 1.9%, the average property price rising to £257,417.

Within England, a North-South divide has been apparent throughout four consecutive months. However, according to the report, this divide is narrowing.

“Over the past two years the Southern English regions have seen a steady deceleration in price growth, which is now running at its slowest pace since 2012,” said Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner. “By contrast, the Northern English regions have recorded a gradual acceleration and recorded their strongest growth rate since 2014 in the first three months of this year.”

In the North of England, the average property cost is £163,138. The average property costs in the south of England is £331,047.

In London, the average price of a house is currently £473,776.


Interest Rates to Rise Twice This Year, Says EY Item Club

The Bank of England is likely to raise interest rates twice this year and twice in 2019, despite a sluggish economy, says a forecasting body.

Bank governor Mark Carney has said a rate rise is “likely” this year, but any increases will be gradual.
However, the EY Item Club said a tight labour market and firming earnings growth were likely to fuel “hawkish instincts” at the Bank.

The forecaster predicted GDP growth of 1.6% this year and 1.7% in 2019.

It said the expected rate rises would allow the Bank to “gradually but steadily normalise monetary policy”.
UK interest rates currently stand at 0.5%. Many economists and investors in the markets believe that the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will vote for a 0.25% rate rise at its May meeting.

‘Chugging along’

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said there was a risk that two rate hikes this year would exert “unnecessary pressure” on consumers.

However, he added that the growth of fixed-rate mortgages meant that fewer homeowners would be affected by a rate rise.

“In addition, the burden of interest payments to the average household was at a record low at the end of 2017, and so consumers are in a relatively healthy position to cope with dearer money,” he said.

Mr Archer said the UK economy was “chugging along at a fairly steady but uninspiring rate”, with inflation continuing to fall and a tight jobs market expected to “deliver some uptick in pay growth”.

At the same time, separate research by Deloitte showed an improvement in UK consumer confidence, but said this had “yet to translate into an overall increase in spending”.

Deloitte’s latest quarterly Consumer Tracker survey said UK consumers were feeling “more upbeat” about their personal finances.

However, people were still prioritising essential spending over luxuries, with the retail and casual dining sectors facing “unprecedented challenges”.


First Time Buyers Miss Out on £9.4bn of Free Government Cash

The latest research from Moneybox has revealed that potential first-time buyers passed up an estimated £9.4bn of government cash today after fewer than 2% of eligible savers opened Lifetime ISAs.

According to the report, government bonuses of up to £1,000 on LISAs are being paid for the first time after the accounts reached their first birthday. Savers aged 18 to 39 can invest up to £4,000 a year in LISAs, which attract an annual government top-up of 25% that can be put towards a deposit for a first home.

However, Moneybox analysis suggests only around 150,000 LISAs1 have been opened in the first year despite potential first-time buyers in the UK numbering in excess of 9.5 million.

That would equate to £9.4bn of free money left in Treasury coffers that could have been claimed and put towards a first home purchase.

This indicates take-up rates are still drastically low, and that becomes even more apparent when you consider how many first-time buyers step onto the property ladder each year.

The number of first-time buyers taking out mortgages in the year to February 2018 was 390,3003.

Ben Stanway, co-founder, Moneybox, commented: “First-time buyers are missing out on billions of pounds that could be going towards the dream of home ownership. Many will be saving the £4,000 needed to claim the maximum bonus elsewhere, so opening a Lifetime ISA makes perfect financial sense.

It’s been fantastic to see our Lifetime ISA customers receive their first bonuses and we look forward to helping thousands of people get their foot on the property ladder over the coming years.”