After the release of the latest UK Residential Market Survey, we take a closer look at the markets in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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Survey in brief

  • Housing sentiment positive but fewer properties coming onto Northern Ireland's market
  • Shortage of homes available for sale pushes Scottish house prices up
  • Welsh house prices start year with a rise

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s housing market started 2018 as it finished 2017, with house prices rising and demand from potential buyers remaining firm, according to the latest RICS and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey.

Indeed, surveyors here continued to display stronger sentiment regarding the housing market in January than in the UK as a whole.

Across the UK, new buyer enquiries, instructions and sales all continued to drift lower while three-month expectations point to a flat picture in the coming months.

In contrast, in Northern Ireland new buyer enquiries continued to increase firmly, according to the survey, whilst newly agreed sales edged up. Expectations for sales and prices also remain in positive territory.

However, concerns around supply in the market in Northern Ireland remain. Whilst new buyer enquiries are reported to be rising firmly, the data for instructions to sell suggests that few properties are coming onto the market. This points to a gap between supply and demand.

Indeed, anecdotally, respondents point to this shortage of supply as a concern regarding the months ahead. They also indicated that higher costs of building materials will act to push up the price of new build homes.

The picture presented of the market in Northern Ireland is considerably more positive than in some other UK regions, with prices here reported to be rising and a growing number of potential new buyers active in the market.

Surveyors are also relatively positive about the outlook, but there are a number of factors that could influence these outcomes including a rise in interest rates, a shortage of supply and economic wider conditions. The increased cost of building materials combined with demand for higher quality homes will also act to make new-build properties more expensive.
Our own experience at Ulster Bank suggests that this positive activity trend is continuing so it is not surprising that the local housing market remains relatively buoyant.

There’s no doubt that there are economic challenges ahead for 2018, including rising inflation, but the evidence suggests that people continue to want to own their own home and that the outlook for the market among surveyors remains quite upbeat.

Scotland

A shortage of homes becoming available for sale in Scotland is continuing to push house prices upwards, according to the latest RICS Residential Market Survey.

A net balance of +21% of Scottish surveyors responding to the survey said that house prices rose in January, which was above the UK figure of +8%.

This comes as Scottish surveyors (a net balance of -12%) report a fall in the number of homes becoming available for sale; this is the tenth consecutive month that the data for new instructions to sell has been in negative territory.

With new buyer enquiries continuing to increase, albeit at a slower rate than at the end of last year, according to the balance of respondents, this suggests that there is a widening gap between availability and demand that will exacerbate supply constraints.

That said, Scottish surveyors remain relatively upbeat about the three-month outlook for the market. A net balance of +32% expect sales activity to increase in the February to April period and a net balance of +7% expect prices to rise in that timeframe.

Surveyors remain positive about the prospects for the housing market in Scotland. However, they also point to a shortage of properties becoming available for sale, which will have a constraining effect on sales activity and potentially push up prices further. Anecdotally, surveyors continue to report that the changes to LBTT are having an ongoing negative impact on instructions to sell in the middle to the prime brackets of the market, and this is having detrimental trickle-down effect in other house price brackets.
The level of stock in the West End is at a historic low. Current sales numbers can’t be sustained without restocking.

Wales 

The Welsh housing market began the year with house prices rising and expectations for values and sales strengthening, according to the latest RICS Residential Market Survey.

A net balance of +39% of Welsh respondents said that house prices rose in January, compared to just +8% for the UK as a whole. Welsh surveyors also remain the UK’s most optimistic regarding what will happen in the three months ahead.

A net balance of +42% of Welsh respondents anticipate that prices will increase in the February to April period, whilst a net balance of +35% expect sales volumes to do the same. These figures are both the highest of all the UK regions; and indeed a number of regions expect price falls.

Looking further ahead, Welsh surveyors are upbeat about expectations for prices and sales 12 months forward. Indeed, 12-month price and activity expectations in Wales remain higher than in most other regions.

However, supply constraints are a feature in Wales, according to the survey. Respondents in Wales indicated that the number of homes coming onto the market has fallen over the past month.

January saw the continuation of the trend at the end of 2017 of the Welsh housing market outperforming the UK as a whole. Surveyors indicate that prices rose in January, and they remain confident in the outlook. Indeed, in our experience, it has been a busy start to the year and we expect that momentum to continue.
It has been a busier than usual January. More applicants are now wishing to purchase feeling that values are moving upwards.

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