The NI housing market’s strong performance continued into September, but surveyors are more cautious about the outlook for the winter months, according to the RICS and Ulster Bank NI Residential Market Survey.
A net balance of 77% of NI respondents saw prices rising according to the September survey (higher than all other UK regions other than Wales), and indicators for activity in the market remained strong.
When it comes to new buyer enquiries, a net balance of +48% was recorded, a solid increase but a slight softening from August’s survey. Data for newly agreed sales and instructions to sell also remained strong at +45% and +46% respectively. However, these had also eased back from highs last month.
Looking ahead, the data for three-month expectations also eased back. A net balance of +15% of respondents said that they expect prices to rise over the next three months, compared to +44% last month. A net balance of +4% expect sales activity to increase in the three months ahead compared to +28% in the August survey.
Anecdotally, NI surveyors also say that whilst the current market is buoyant, they point to a more challenging period ahead as pent up demand from the lockdown period moves through the system.
Samuel Dickey, RICS Northern Ireland Residential Property Spokesman, said: “The housing market once again showed resilience with September bringing another month of strong sales across the price bands. We see the impact of the stamp duty holiday, pent-up demand, and also the behavioural changes post lockdown, as strong contributing factors to the current market conditions. In the coming months as more buyers find new homes, we envisage a continuous demand in the market but at a more sustainable and affordable level.”
Terry Robb, Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank, said: “We had a very busy third quarter in terms of mortgage demand. Indeed, it was one of the busiest quarters we have had in the past two years. To help buyers, we have a range of competitive mortgage deals available as well as options for Co-Ownership mortgages which have been very popular. As a bank, we remain strongly committed to supporting people to buy their own home, to move house and to remortgage and will continue to lend in a responsible way that enables people to do so and supports market activity.”
Commenting on the UK picture Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist said: “The latest RICS survey provides further evidence of the buoyancy of the housing market with more buyers and sellers helping to boost activity across the country. However there is increasing concern that the combination of significant job losses over the coming month allied to the scaling back of policy initiatives in early 2021 will have an adverse impact on transaction levels. Meanwhile there is little sense this softer sales picture will be accompanied by very much easing in the momentum around prices and rents adding to the ongoing challenge around affordability.”