If property was a sport in Northern Ireland the season would start in March, spring being the traditional time for buying and selling. However February provided a running start for the market, with the average house price here up 2.4% on last year.
This rise, which was revealed in a report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), brings the average house price here to £157,000. It’s a great start to what looks set to be a busy year for Northern Ireland’s revitalised property market, but we’re still some way behind the rest of the UK where average property values stand at £284,000 following a 7.6% increase shored up by strong growth in the east and south-east of England.
Typical UK first time buyers paid 8% more for a home in February this year, than in 2015 with the ONS quoting a shortage of supply as fueling the increased demand.
Templeton Robinson’s Keith Mitchell says these latest figures reflect growing assurance in the marketplace.
“This is a fantastic start what is one of the busiest times of the year for Templeton Robinson, and the figures are in line with what the teams from our five regional offices are telling us in terms of activity.
“There are some incredibly competitive mortgage deals to be had, and interest rates are still favourable which is encouraging more buyers to invest.
“It’s also worth noting that the increase in Stamp Duty which came into effect at the beginning of April was preceded by a surge of activity and races to complete which will further buoy up the market, but which have yet to be collated.”
Indeed landlords borrowed £3.7bn in February, unchanged month-on-month but up 61% year-on-year ahead of the Stamp Duty increases which began on April 1st this year.
The figures, which come from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, also show that £8.7 billion borrowed for house purchases here is the largest amount since February 2007. 48,000 loans were taken out up 4% on January and 12% on February 2015.
Paul Smee, director general of the CML says buy-to-let has seen substantial year-on-year increases, with particularly strong growth in remortgaging..
“This is a pattern which we have seen in the buy-to-let sector the past six months. Activity has been boosted by landlords seeking to complete purchases before tax changes in April. We do not expect activity to show such strong year-on-year growth later in the year.”Keith Mitchel - Senior Partner