THE Northern Ireland housing market has started 2018 in a positive manner, with prices increasing and demand strong, according to a new industry survey.
The latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey for January has revealed that surveyors in the north continue to display greater positivity regarding the housing market than in the UK as a whole, but a lack of supply in the local market remains a cause for concern.
In Northern Ireland new buyer enquiries continued to increase firmly, according to the survey, whilst newly agreed sales edged up. Expectations for sales and prices also remain in positive territory, with only the north west of England displaying a higher reading in terms of the latter.
The positive picture is in direct contrast to the UK-wide picture, with new buyer enquiries, instructions and sales all continuing to drift lower while the three-month expectations point to a flat picture in the near future.
Concerns in relation to supply in the Northern Ireland market remain though. Whilst new buyer enquiries are reported to be rising firmly, the data for instructions to sell suggests that few properties are coming onto the market- pointing to a gap between supply and demand.
Respondents point to this shortage of supply as a concern in the months ahead and also indicated that higher costs of building materials will act to push up the price of new build homes.
RICS residential property spokesman, Samuel Dickey said the picture presented of the market in Northern Ireland is “considerably more positive” than in some other UK regions, with prices reported to be rising and a growing number of potential new buyers active in the market.
“Surveyors are also relatively positive about the outlook, but there are a number of factors that could influence these outcomes including a rise in interest rates, a shortage of supply and economic wider conditions. The increased cost of building materials combined with demand for higher quality homes will also act to make new-build properties more expensive,” he said.
Sean Murphy, managing director for personal banking at Ulster Bank, said it is no surprise the local housing market remains “relatively buoyant”.
“There’s no doubt that there are economic challenges ahead for 2018, including rising inflation, but the evidence suggests that people continue to want to own their own home and that the outlook for the market among surveyors remains quite upbeat.”
Reflecting on the survey findings, Co-Ownership chief executive, Mark Graham added:
“With more interest from new buyers, yet fewer instructions to sell, housing supply and demand remains an issue for the local housing market. Northern Ireland has had a legacy of underbuilding for over a decade. The reality is that we are still not building anywhere near enough homes to meet demand. Indeed, it is estimated that we need to be building something in the region of an additional 2,000 homes per annum in Northern Ireland, particularly in today’s market when the buyers’ preference is increasingly for new-build properties.”
“Not only do we need to see more new housing developments, but we need new stock of affordable houses to support these buyers,” he said.