The outlook for the Northern Ireland housing market remains more buoyant than other UK regions despite a softening in the data for activity last month, according to RICS & Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey for September 2017.

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Main findings:

  • The headline price balance for Northern Ireland was +39% in the latest survey, meaning that 39% more surveyors said that prices rose in the past three months than those who said they fell.
  • The price expectations balance, at +28%, remains positive and above all other UK regions. Meanwhile, sales expectations data (+23%) is also the most positive in the UK.
  • However, data for newly agreed sales (-12%), new buyer enquiries (-16%) and new instructions (-6%) all moved into negative territory, albeit relatively marginally so.

Higher than the UK average

Northern Ireland has the highest balance of respondents expecting prices and sales activity to increase in the next three months. The balance of surveyors saying that prices rose in the past three months was also significantly higher in Northern Ireland than the UK average.

However, there was a softening in the data for new buyer enquiries, newly agreed sales, and new instructions to sell. Anecdotally, surveyors reported that a lack of housing stock was a key factor behind this.

Overall, the latest survey paints a relatively upbeat picture for the Northern Ireland housing market. Indeed, Northern Ireland and Scotland are the only parts of the UK where surveyors are confident that prices will rise meaningfully over the near-term. With key indicators for the local economy continuing to show strong growth in the private sector, this optimism is perhaps unsurprising. The one key challenge though remains supply, with surveyors continuing to indicate that availability of stock remains a problem.
As we move into the final quarter of 2017, what is clear is that this year to date has been a reasonably positive one for the Northern Ireland housing market. The latest data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders showed that the number of loans for home purchase was up 15% in the second quarter of the year compared to last year. Our own experience at Ulster Bank suggests that this positive activity trend continued into the third quarter, and surveyors remain confident in relation to the outlook for the final three months of the year.

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