Optimism NI housing market on mend

Robyn Hall

September 17, 2013

Addressing the Northern Ireland Assembly yesterday, Simon Hamilton said that five key financial indicators, including the housing index, pointed to an economic recovery.

He said: “In the past we have heard politicians express too early the end of economic downturns, recessions and so forth so we need to be somewhat cautious.

“However when we start to see a body of evidence develop, as we have over the past number of weeks, we can say that there are encouraging signs economically in Northern Ireland.”

The residential property price index, released in August, showed that prices had increased by 2% between the first and second quarters of 2013.

This was the first quarter since quarter two 2007 where prices across all property types had reported an increase.

But annually the index showed a 3% fall in property prices to the end of June 2013 due to the fall in prices between quarter three 2012 and quarter one 2013.

In contrast the number of transactions rose in the quarter two this year.

Between April and June this year 3,400 residential properties sold which represented a 10% increase on the number sold in the second quarter of 2012 and was the highest number of sales recorded in a second quarter since quarter two 2007.

He added: “In many respects these are the best figures since 2007 which is significant because that was the start of the downturn.”

Other indicators pointing to a healthier economy are; the Northern Ireland composite index which has shown positive growth in the economy during two of the past four quarters, the unemployment rate which has stabilised and stands at 6.9% and the Ulster Bank’s purchasing managers’ index which Hamilton described as “extremely encouraging”.

He said: “Anybody who knows the history of that will know that the figures have been “littered with positives” which is a direct quote from commentators.

“Business activity, new orders, exports and employment have all increased. The business activity increase is now at its fastest rate in 70 months.”

Hamilton added: “All previous indications were that these things were moving in the wrong direction. They are now moving in the right direction and that is rightly cause for optimism.”

David Copeland, director of Belfast-based broker, An Independent Mortgage Solution, said he is a witnessed an upturn in the property market in the last six months.

He said: “Over the last six months we have seen a lot more first-time buyers coming on to the market and when properties are coming on to the market they are selling in three to six months if they are priced properly.”

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