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House Sales Increase While Prices Remain Stable, Say Ulster Researchers


The latest University of Ulster Quarterly House Price Index for the final quarter of 2012, produced in partnership with Bank of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, has recorded an increase in the number of house sales, with signs of greater stability in prices.

The overall average price of a house in the fourth quarter – October, November and December - was £138,969, virtually identical to that recorded in the third quarter and representing a small drop of 1.4% over the year.

The price statistics are based on a sample of 1,357 open market transactions from a network of estate agents. This was a substantial increase in volume on recent reports and was the highest quarterly number of sales captured by the survey since the last quarter of 2007.

The authors of the report - Professor Alastair Adair, Professor Stanley McGreal, Dr David McIlhatton and Dr John McCord said: “The current survey demonstrates some encouraging signs for the Northern Ireland housing market, notably the increased volume of transactions which suggests that there is greater activity inthe marketplace, and the overall price level which has held steady over the past quarter."

The report notes the affordable price structure of housing in Northern Ireland, with 69% of properties sold for £150,000 or below. Some 38% of the total were sold at or below £100,000 and the authors say this suggests there is considerable value in the local market for buyers.

Alan Bridle, UK Economist at Bank of Ireland UK, said: “While transactions remain significantly shy of peak levels, the indicationsthat properties are moving at their fastest rate in five years would, if sustained,sound apositive notefor the broader housing economy in Northern Ireland.

“However,both price and activity trends are not uniform across the region with the market adjustment seemingly complete in some locations but not in others.”

The Housing Executive’s Head of Research, Joe Frey, said: “Further signs of a more normal market, and in particular the rising number of house sales, are to be welcomed. However, it is important not to underestimate the challenges that lie ahead in the face of ongoing labour market uncertainties”


Property Types
Whilst the overall average price suggests a largely stable market greater variability is apparent for individual property types with swings in average price more apparent particularly if market evidence is thin.

The price performance of property types compared with the same quarter in 2011 was variable, with regional disparity influencing price in some typologies.

The strongest annual rise was in detached houses with the average price up 5.7%. The apartment sector also performed better over the year, up 1.9%.

The average price of semi-detached bungalows was lower by 11.8%, semi-detached houses were down 5.7% and terraced/townhouses fell by 10.8%, although this decline has to be taken in the context that performance is unequal across Northern Ireland, with some regions performing better than others.

The average price of detached bungalows was largely unchanged, down just 0.3%.


Regional performance (see table)
At a regional level trends remained highly variable with some markets showing uplift in average prices while others declined. For certain regions, the prices and their variability were influenced by localised market conditions.
In Belfast the generally improving market throughout 2012 was evident in the latest survey with the overall average price up 5.7% over a year. South Belfast remained the highest priced area in Northern Ireland while the Londonderry/Strabane market was the least expensive.


House Price Index
The long-term House Price Index, calculated relative to the base quarter for the survey in 1984,was relatively unchanged in this survey at 496.96. The pattern of the index since 2009 has been uneven, supporting the view that recovery will be somewhat erratic.

Ends


TABLE
Average house price by region Q4 2012

LocationAverage PriceQuarter 4 2012Northern Ireland - All£138,969Belfast-All£149,156North Belfast£88,473South Belfast£185,137East Belfast£142,963West Belfast£91,404North Down£167,581Lisburn£161,732East Antrim£126,974L'Derry/Strabane£86,986Antrim Ballymena£124,769Coleraine/Limavady/North Coast£121,053Enniskillen/Fermanagh/S.Tyrone£108,023Mid Ulster£102,400Mid and South Down£133,106Craigavon/Armagh£111,418


Media contacts:For University of Ulster: Press Office, University of Ulster +44 (0)28 90366 178
For Bank of Ireland: Catherine Agnew, Smarts Communicate +44 (0)28 9039 5500.
For NIHE: Jonny Blease or Jim Murray +44 (0)28 9031 8700