Business news

RICS and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey

Posted By:
Ulster Bank

14th Mar 2024

Firm demand from homebuyers is leading to stronger expectations for sales in the Northern Ireland housing market, according to the latest RICS and Ulster Bank Residential Market Survey.

A net balance of 28% of respondents based in Northern Ireland said that there were more new buyers active in the market during February relative to January. This is the fourth consecutive month that the net balance has been strongly positive.

As a result, expectations for home sales increased to their highest level in over three years. A net balance of 54% of respondents said that they expect sales to be higher in three months’ time, which is the strongest the net balance has been since January 2021.

The outlook for prices has also strengthened. A net balance of 49% of respondents expect prices to be higher in three months’ time – the highest the price expectations balance has been in almost two years. This follows on from firm price growth over the past months. A net balance of 53% of respondents said that prices increased in the three months to the end of February.

The one factor that could hold back sales growth is the availability of properties. Whilst new instructions to sell were reported to have increased in February, there continues to be an imbalance compared to demand. A net balance of 9% of respondents said that new instructions increased last month, compared to the 28% who said that new buyer enquiries did.


Samuel Dickey, RICS Northern Ireland Residential Property Spokesman, says: “As we move into the Spring months, demand for house purchases is increasing and we expect to see more sales going through. For the large part, in our experience, these are going through at asking price or above, with some instances of parties bidding against each other. There is no doubt that lower mortgage rates are helping. But there is still a shortage of properties coming onto the market. In our experience, there is a particular lack of family homes, creating a challenge for those hoping to upsize.”


Terry Robb, Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank, added: “With house prices continuing to rise in Northern Ireland, we know that affordability continues to be a challenge for some, particularly first time buyers. Ulster Bank is committed to helping first time buyers meet their financial goals and enabling them to achieve home ownership, particularly for segments of the market for whom home ownership has felt far out of reach in recent times. We know that sustainability also remains important for customers, but that cost remains a high barrier to homeowners when making sustainable changes and that’s clearly unsurprising given the significant increase in cost of living. There needs to be a change in making the options more accessible to our customers and wider homeowners. Our own data shows that homeowners are keen to make greener changes but are halted by these barriers – our ongoing research into consumer attitudes has helped inform our understanding in developing products that might assist in the process, as well as our engagement with Government. It is key that we support customers financially, so they are not held back from boosting demand for energy efficient products and services.”