Northern Ireland is one of the few areas of the UK where house prices are still rising, but there are signs that activity in the market is less buoyant than it was, according to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey.
In the latest survey results, Northern Ireland maintained its position as the part of the UK with the highest balance of respondents reporting rising prices. Northern Ireland respondents also expect prices to continue edging upwards in the three months ahead.
There are signs, however, that activity in the Northern Ireland housing market is slowing down. New buyer enquiries fell for the second month in succession, and newly agreed sales were broadly flat in January, having fallen in December. The three-month outlook for sales activity is also subdued, according to respondents.
On the positive side, the survey points to a rise in new instructions to sell, indicating that the supply of homes coming onto the market has picked up.
Samuel Dickey, RICS Residential Property Spokesman in Northern Ireland, said: “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. 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, said: “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.”
The main findings of the RICS and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey, January 2019
- The headline price balance for Northern Ireland has risen for a third consecutive month to +45%, meaning that 45% more surveyors perceived prices to have risen in the last three months than those who said they fell.
- The price expectations balance is at +34% for the next three months, suggesting that surveyors expect prices to continue edging upwards,
- The net balance for new buyer enquiries was -8%, pointing a fall in buyer interest last month compared to the previous month.
- The newly agreed sales indicator was also subdued, with a net balance of +4%.
- As a result, surveyors are cautious with regard to the short-term outlook for activity, with a net balance of -5% regarding the sales expectations indicator.
- Looking 12 months ahead though, a net balance of 56% of respondents expect sales activity to be higher.