The latest Quarterly House Price Index report from Ulster University indicates a stable but lethargic residential property market in Northern Ireland continuing the trend of a subdued rate of house price growth over the past five quarters.
Ulster University’s research is produced in partnership with Progressive Building Society and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
Analysing the performance of the Northern Ireland housing market between April and June 2019, the report reveals an overall average house price of £161,990 which represents a nominal weighted level of growth of 0.9% between Q2 2018 and Q2 2019. When considering the quarterly movements, the index reveals a small decline of 0.5% relative to the first quarter of the year- the second quarterly decline in a row. The volume of transactions in the survey is 2,248.
Estate agents’ market observations during the second quarter of 2019, as with previous quarters, indicate that the absence of a Stormont executive, ongoing Brexit uncertainty and the political change in Westminster have continued to impact on market sentiment and buyer activity and confidence. Despite this, agents are optimistic that the current sluggish market conditions will pick up in the coming six months. Whilst the market is slow, there is an underlying current of ‘necessary’ transactions. Further, agents highlighted that there remains an appetite in the market, particularly within the first time buyer segment, which seems more resilient to the ongoing political instability.
The distribution of sale price this quarter broadly reflects the previous quarter, with the share of lower priced properties below £100,000 equating to 24%. Properties sold at or below £150,000 accounted for 58% of transactions, compared to 55% in the previous survey. These statistics continue to suggest that there remains more traction at the lower end of the housing market across Northern Ireland. For the higher price brackets, 80% of transactions are at or below £200,000, with 91% of properties sold at or below £250,000 and 95% below £300,000. Overall, the analysis by price band continues to show a balanced housing market in Northern Ireland with price spreads virtually unchanged over the last few quarters.
Lead researcher, Dr Martin Hinch from Ulster University said: “The latest Ulster University quarterly house price report reveals a residential housing market that continues to display subdued levels of growth. Whilst this trend has been observed for the last 18 months the resilience of the NI market throughout this period of unprecedented prolonged political and economic uncertainty is apparent. Despite uncertainty around the potential implications of leaving the EU, the lack of a functioning Stormont executive and ongoing turmoil in Westminster, core transaction levels and sustainable market conditions continue to prevail.”
Commenting on the report Michael Boyd, Deputy Chief Executive and Finance Director, Progressive Building Society said: “These market conditions are being influenced by the Brexit process and the lack of an accountable local executive. However, there are still strong levels of transactions particularly with First Time Buyers who are taking advantage of affordable housing especially compared to the rest of the UK. Looking forward we will continue to work to support an affordable housing market and while Brexit continues to impact growth, clarity around the process will be a welcome stimulus for the local market.”
Karly Greene, Head of Research at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, which commissions the research, said: “For a sixth consecutive quarter, Ulster University’s analysis of the price of properties sold in Northern Ireland shows very little change at headline level. The high degree of overall stability in house prices reflects wider uncertainties but, as always, there is greater variation at local level and in different segments of the market. There is also evidence of some challenges for the first time buyers who have played an important role in driving the market over recent years.”