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NI Housing Market Expectations Ease As New Buyer Enquiries Remain Subdued

Expectations for the Northern Ireland housing market eased back as new buyer enquiries remained subdued and there was a slowdown in the number of properties becoming available for sale, according to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey.

A net balance of 14% of respondents to the survey expects sales to rise over the next three months, down from 22% in the previous survey. Expectations for prices also eased back with a net balance of 12% expecting prices to increase between November and January, down from 41% in the last survey.

This trend is perhaps unsurprising given the flat picture regarding new buyer enquiries. A net balance of just 1% of Northern Ireland respondents said that new buyer enquiries increased last month, following on from four consecutive quarters when respondents reported a fall.

The number of properties coming onto the market also slowed through October, with a net balance of 5% of respondents reporting a rise, down from 20% in September.

That said, the house price balance remained relatively robust in the latest survey with a net balance of 23% of NI-based respondents noting an increase in house prices. NI is now the only region in the UK where the price balance is currently positive.

And whilst the short term outlook is relatively subdued, respondents are more positive about the longer-term outlook, with a net balance of 53% expecting prices to be higher in 12 months and 25% expecting sales levels to be higher.

Samuel Dickey (pictured above), RICS Northern Ireland Residential Property Spokesman, said: “On the whole, the Northern Ireland housing market remains in a stronger position than other parts of the UK with prices increasing and sales continuing to take place. Whilst respondents are reporting an easing back in new buyer enquiries, this is not unexpected given interest rate rises and the time of year. Respondents are more positive about the sales market over the next 12 months. Looking at the rental market, we’re continuing to see an imbalance of supply and demand, with not enough stock to meet the needs of the market which is driving up pricing. Anecdotally, we’re also seeing some landlords selling properties, which is applying further pressure to the market.”

Terry Robb, Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank, added: “Mortgage demand remains relatively strong as people continue to want to buy their own home. This is particularly the case with the rental market so competitive and with significant increases in rental costs. We are therefore continuing to work to support customers with their homebuying aspirations.”

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