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RICS and Ulster Bank Housing Market Survey
We are on the eve of our next auction, to be held at the Stormont Hotel on the Tuesday the 8th May. Spring is here and there are signs that the season is having some positive impact on the thinking of potential buyers. Anecdotally Estate Agents say that there is a slight increase both in their stock and in the number of sales being agreed. This appears to be confirmed by the latest RICS and Ulster Bank Housing Market Survey, according to which some improvements were evident in the NI housing market in March,
The latest survey indicates that the data for transaction volumes and transaction expectations remain firmly in positive territory, reflecting seasonal factors. There have also been increases in enquiries and new instructions, according to those responding to the survey.
However, surveyors are still reporting falling prices, and the balance of respondents expect prices to fall in the months ahead.
2011 saw a third consecutive year of increasing first-time buyer mortgage completions in Northern Ireland, and Ulster Bank has experienced further increases in first-time buyer interest since the beginning of 2012.
Encouragingly, they are also currently seeing rising demand from other mortgage borrowers, including re-mortgagers and home movers, who have been responding to the current campaign which offers competitive rates and no arrangement fees for a period.
Derek Wilson, Head of Lending Products, Ulster Bank says:-
“The dramatic improvements in affordability in the Northern Ireland housing market since 2007 have been highlighted by a range of surveys.
With prices at the lower end of the market now so much more affordable and increasingly stabilising, there is evidence that if first-time buyers have a deposit, there is enthusiasm to buy.
That said, with wider economic conditions still challenging, we don't expect to see any major shift in the market, with seasonality likely to remain the biggest influence on activity for the foreseeable.”
Tom McClelland, RICS Northern Ireland housing spokesman says:-
“The balance for transactions was +27 (this is the percentage of respondents saying the number of transactions rose, minus the percentage saying the number fell). The balance for transaction expectations was +42.
The March survey’s net balance for prices was -52 (52% of respondents saying that prices fell in the last three months and 48% saying they were unchanged). The balance for price expectations was -25.”
The position with regard to sales at auction is however somewhat stronger. Auction rooms are thriving as a growing number of properties go under the hammer. The latest figures from the Essential Information Group, an auction data specialist, show that the number of lots sold has risen in each month.
EIG have reported an exceptionally strong set of results for March and the rolling quarterly and yearly periods and that there have been marked improvements in the auction market over the last 4 years.
The percentage of lots sold was up by 12.2 % over the rolling year and the number of lots sold in this year was the highest was the highest in a yearly period since 2007/2008.
Residential sales raised over £500 in the first quarter of 2012 which is an increase of 14.7% on the first quarter of 2011.
The positive series of Auction results observed throughout the first quarter of 2012 indicates a stabilised market with growing confidence and optimism found amongst buyers and sellers alike.