NORTHERN Ireland’s housing market continues to do significantly better than other UK regions across all indicators, the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) study has found.
House prices in Britain - including in London and the south east - fell for the third successive month in November, with uncertainty over Brexit prompting home buyers and sellers to sit tight in increasing numbers.
But Northern Ireland is at the other end of the spectrum, with more than a third of surveyor respondents saying prices rose.
And on future expectations for house prices, the north is the only region of the UK where surveyors expect prices to rise in the three months ahead.
Respondent are also significantly more optimistic than elsewhere in the UK when it comes to expectations for sales activity.
But supply remains an issue, with a lack of new homes up for sale impacting estate agents' average stock levels.
Samuel Dickey, residential property spokesman at Rics said: “Overall 2018 is shaping up to have been a relatively positive year for the local housing market in a number of respects.
"House prices have risen at healthy rate and activity in various segments of the market has been relatively good, albeit that there are regional variations.
"But we need to see more new homes being built, and more resale properties would need to become available to meet demand. Uncertainty in the wider environment doesn’t seem to be having an significant impact on the housing market to date in Northern Ireland, unlike in the rest of the UK, though whether that continues into 2019 remains to be seen.”
Terry Robb, head of personal banking at Ulster Bank, which assists Rics in the publication of the monthly report, said: “Demand this to date has been good and we have seen a good pipeline of activity during the year. Feedback suggests that the early part of 2019 at least will see these trends continue.”
It now takes 19 weeks on average for a property to sell after initially being listed, the longest duration seen since this aspect of the survey started in February 2017 and another sign of challenges in the sales market, Rics said.
In the lettings market, demand from prospective tenants is holding broadly steady, but the number of new homes coming up for rent continues to fall, signalling a continued decline in the supply of fresh rental stock.
On average, rents are expected to rise by 3.1 per cent a year over the next five years, while house price growth projections stand at 2.3 per cent on the same basis, Rics added.