28/02/2005

NI house prices buck UK trend and keep rising

The housing market in Northern Ireland is yet to see evidence of a slow down - unlike other parts of the UK - according to the region’s most authoritative survey of house prices.

The latest University of Ulster Quarterly House Price Index produced in partnership with Bank of Ireland and supported by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive has revealed that the annual rate of growth in house prices in the final quarter of 2004 was 13.39%.

The survey for the quarter from October to December 2004 showed that the overall average price of residential property reached a new high of £118,313, continuing the quarterly pattern of growth over the year. Lisburn has the highest average price of £141,324 while East Antrim is the lowest at £101,078.

Commenting on the Index, authors – Professor Alastair Adair, Professor Stanley McGreal and Suzanne Allen of the University of Ulster – said: “The report highlights the mixed messages coming from the current survey with, on the one hand, annual price growth back into double digit figures while, more in line with expectations, the quarterly increase at the end of 2004 was 2.9%.”

Bank of Ireland’s Head of Research in Northern Ireland, economist Alan Bridle, added: “The findings of the latest survey portray a market which, in general is still bubbling along with the highest rate of annual increase since the third quarter of 2002.

“It may be, however, that the latest annual reading is something of a ‘high water-mark’ and we anticipate a return to high single digit price growth in 2005, perhaps 7%. The fortunes of the market remain inextricably linked to the general health of the economy, the cost of borrowing and the affordability constraints on first time buyers.”

The report from the University of Ulster is based on a sample of 2028 open market transactions across the entire range of house types.

(MB/SP)

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