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Demand for homes rises as stamp duty deadline looms

Dec 11 2020 10:40:00

Demand for homes in Northern Ireland continued to increase in November, with the stamp duty cut ending in Q1 2021 seen as a factor, according to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank NI Residential Market Survey.

A net balance of +55% of Northern Ireland surveyors told Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors they experienced an increase in newly agreed sales during the November period, up from +42% in October.

New buyer enquiries also increased in the month, with a net balance of +49% of Northern Ireland respondents saying there was an uplift (up from +32% in October).

Whilst the market is currently very busy, the outlook for sales activity is slightly less buoyant, with a net balance of +10% of Northern Ireland respondents expecting an increase over the next three months.

In terms of house prices there continued to be significant upward pressure according to the latest survey, with a net balance of +84% of Northern Ireland respondents citing a rise in property values.

This was higher than the UK average of +66%, and higher than most other UK regions.

With regard to the outlook for prices, +27% of Northern Ireland respondents expect values to be higher than they are now in three months’ time.

Anecdotally, NI surveyors say that with the end of the stamp duty cut in March, some buyers are seeking to buy now ahead of the change.

Estimating a slower pace over Christmas Samuel Dickey, RICS Northern Ireland Residential Property Spokesman, believes the new year will see the market pick up as ‘as buyers seek to get in ahead of the stamp duty change’ in March.

He explained: “It has been a very busy quarter for the housing market in Northern Ireland and as we head into the Christmas period it will no doubt be quieter in the second half of December as it is every year.

“However, we would expect activity to pick up again early in the new year as buyers seek to get in ahead of the stamp duty change. Beyond that, much will depend on the labour market, government support for the economy, and lending conditions.

“Positive developments with a vaccine do though give hope that life will get back to a greater degree of normality later in 2021 and with that the outlook for the economy should improve.”

Highlighting their commitment to the community and future house hunters, Terry Robb, Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank, added: “November was again a very busy month for mortgage activity with good demand from the full spectrum of borrowers.

“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 remain focused in 2021 on lending in a responsible way that enables people to do so and supports market activity.”