House prices in North growing faster than UK market

Industry body warns supply issues could push prices higher

Rapidly rising house prices and sales drove the North's housing market to outperform every other region in the UK last month according to latest statistics published on Thursday by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank.

According to the RICS the combination of rising prices and sales during March plus an increase in “instructions, enquiries and expectations” helped the local market deliver a strong performance compared to its counterparts in the UK.

But the industry body has also warned that with more potential buyers entering the market there is now an issue with supply and demand which it predicts could push local property prices higher.

Samuel Dickey, RICS Northern Ireland spokesman, said: "Northern Ireland recorded the highest price balance of all UK regions during March and has the highest price expectations over the next three months. This reflects the fact that the local market remains in recovery mode. Unlike other UK regions, average house prices here remain significantly below their peak and have a long way to go before they return to those levels."


Earlier this week official figures from the UK Government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that in the 12 months to February local house prices had risen by 14.2 per cent - nearly double the UK average of 7.4 per cent and well ahead of both Scotland where property prices increased by 6.4 per cent and Wales where prices rose by just 1.1 per cent.

But while house price growth in the North in the year to February may have surpassed the rest of the UK the price increases are coming off a very low base as Northern Ireland suffered one of the worst sustained falls in house values during the property crash.

According to ONS statistics house prices remain 43 per cent below their peak of August 2007, the UK agency has estimated that that the average price of a home in Northern Ireland is currently in the region of £152,000.

The latest RICS and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey suggests that the majority of its local members expect house prices to continue to rise in the next three months and transactions to follow the same trend.

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business