Northern Ireland’s housing market continues to outperform all other UK regions, and local surveyors are more optimistic about the year ahead than their counterparts across the water. That’s according to the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey, which compares surveyors’ views on the housing market across the UK month-on-month.
Over the past three months, a net balance of 53% of Northern Ireland respondents reported a rise in house prices, compared to -30% of respondents in the UK as a whole.
When taking a look at pricing expectations, respondents in Northern Ireland anticipate that prices will continue rising through the first quarter of 2024. A net balance of 38% of NI respondents expect prices to increase, compared to -13% for the UK as a whole. The figure was also a marked improvement from -23% in January of 2023.
Regarding demand, a net balance of 24% of respondents in NI reported that new buyer inquiries rose last month. This was compared to -3% for the UK as a whole. It was also a marked improvement from the January 2023 figure of -22%.
Supply followed a similar pattern to demand. Looking at new instructions to sell, a net balance of 24% of NI surveyors reported a rise in new properties coming onto the market last month. This is up from -25% at the beginning of 2023.
In terms of sales, a net balance of +16% of respondents in NI reported a rise, compared to -3% for the UK as a whole.
NI respondents also appear to be more optimistic about the sales outlook for the first three months of 2024 than their UK counterparts, with a net balance of 22% of NI surveyors anticipating a rise in sales, compared to the UK average of 12%.
Regarding the year ahead, Northern Ireland surveyors’ expectations have improved again and are markedly above the UK average. A net balance of +68% of NI respondents expects prices to be higher in a year’s time. The next highest figure is Scotland at +15%. A net balance of 50% of Northern Ireland respondents expects sales activity to higher in a year’s time, compared to +34% for the UK as a whole.
Samuel Dickey, RICS Northern Ireland Residential Property Spokesman, says: “2023 was an eventful year with economic and mortgage uncertainty, as well as adding political uncertainty into the mix. In this environment, the local housing market probably outperformed many people’s expectations, certainly in terms of prices, which held up well and indeed increased. It’s probably unsurprising that local surveyors continue to be more optimistic than their UK counterparts for 2024. However, whilst the data suggests improvements in the number of properties coming onto the market, the big challenge locally this year will continue to be housing supply. This will impact the number of sales and should also continue to support prices. We expect demand to increase as the mortgage environment continues to improve, and I expect that good quality housing that is priced reasonably to sell really well.”
Terry Robb, Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank, added: “As we move into 2024, Ulster Bank is strongly committed to supporting homebuyers and remortgagers. We have just reduced the rates on our new business and existing customer product ranges from this week, which includes rate reductions on two and five year deals for purchase and remortgage, as well as on our green mortgages. Last year ended with good demand in December and we expect that to continue into this year as well.”