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The latest Quarterly House Price Index report from Ulster University indicates a residential property market that remains durable, however rates of price growth are relatively muted for the third quarter in a row. Quarterly growth is more subdued than during the latter part of 2018 and there is evidence of increased variability across local sub-markets.

Ulster University’s research is produced in partnership with Progressive Building Society and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Analysing the performance of the Northern Ireland housing market between January -March 2019, the report reveals an overall average house price of £162,914, virtually unchanged (-0.4% on a weighted basis) by comparison with the previous quarter but marginally higher than during the equivalent period in 2018. The volume of transactions in the survey is 1,922.

Estate agents’ market observations this quarter have been dominated by the ongoing Brexit paralysis and the accompanying uncertainty. There remains a perception that vendors, purchasers and investors are perhaps more reluctant to commit to a sale or purchase, and that the sales process is perceptibily more fragile.

Agents across the region have also observed that the market is still considerably first-time-buyer focused, although it was also commented that the ‘bank of mum and dad’ is still very much in evidence amongst this cohort.

The distribution of sale price this quarter broadly reflects the previous quarter, with the share of lower priced properties below £100,000 equating to 22%. Properties sold at or below £150,000 accounted for 55% of transactions, compared to 58% in the previous survey. For the higher price brackets, 78% of transactions are at or below £200,000, 90% of properties sold at or below £250,000 and 95% below £300,000. Overall the analysis by price band continues to show a balanced housing market in Northern Ireland, with price spreads virtually unchanged over the quarter.

Lead researcher, Dr Martin Hinch from Ulster University said:

“The first quarter of 2019 indicates continuation of the more muted market behaviour observed towards the end of 2018.  Whilst political and economic uncertainties within Northern Ireland and on the wider UK level appear to be causing a degree of hesitance among vendors and purchasers, the market dynamics remain positive and reflect a resilient housing market.”

Commenting on the report Michael Boyd, Deputy Chief Executive and Finance Director, Progressive Building Society said:

“While quarterly growth continues to be subdued, economic conditions in Northern Ireland support the outlook of an affordable housing market. Average house prices throughout the first quarter of 2019 saw a modest annual increase of 1.2% however there is no doubt that the duration of political inactivity will start to influence the buoyancy of the market over the coming months.”

Karly Greene, Head of Research at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, which commissions the research, said:

“The latest quarterly findings and our wider analysis indicate that Northern Ireland’s housing market remains in a position of relative stability.   Trends in the wider economy are still the main influence on the market and, although the signals are mixed, our view is that – all other things being equal – there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about the outlook for the local housing market during the remainder of 2019.”

Read the report in full here.