RICS and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey show expectations lower in NI housing market

RICS and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey, Northern Ireland December 2018 Northern Ireland’s housing market continues to outperform the UK as a whole in terms of prices and sales, according to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey. However, expectations for the three months ahead have fallen.

In the latest survey, Northern Ireland has a higher balance of respondents saying that prices rose than any other region of the UK. The balance of Northern Ireland surveyors also indicate that the number of newly agreed sales increased last month.

But when it comes to the outlook for the market, Northern Ireland respondents are now much more cautious.

The net balance for price expectations was -8 percent, meaning that eight per cent more Northern Ireland respondents expect prices to fall in the next quarter than expect them to rise. The net balance for sales expectations was -21 percent.

Indeed, Northern Ireland respondents say that new buyer enquiries fell in December, which is in line with the lower expectations for sales activity.

RICS Residential Property Spokesman, Samuel Dickey said: “Last year appears to have finished with prices rising and sales activity edging upwards. However, as we move into 2019, it is clear that surveyors in Northern Ireland are less optimistic than they were. Northern Ireland surveyors have been more optimistic than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK for a number of months, but their expectations now appear to be falling more into line with elsewhere when considering the three months ahead.”

Terry Robb, Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank, said: “Surveyors are becoming more cautious in their outlook, reflecting some uncertainty in the wider environment. However, the figures for December point to rises in both sales and prices. In line with this mortgage demand remains good, reflecting the fact that many people in Northern Ireland continue to want to own their own home or move to a new property.”

The main findings of the RICS and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey

The headline price balance for Northern Ireland was +32% in the latest survey, meaning that 32% more surveyors said prices rose in the past three months than those who said they fell.

The price expectations balance at -8% for the next three months fell into negative territory while sales expectations data (with a net balance of -21%) for this period indicated that surveyors’ expectations have moved lower.

The net balance for newly agreed sales was +9%, indicating that there was an increase in December compared to November.

There was a fall in new buyer enquiries according to a net balance of 10% of respondents.

New instructions to sell were broadly flat (a net balance of +1%).

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