Two lots of figures which analyse the performance of NI’s property market are due to be released later this week; those from the Department of Finance and those from the University of Ulster. Both sets of statistics, from the first quarter of 2014 are expected to reveal a year-on-year increase in value of between 4-5%, with an average house in Northern Ireland worth approximately £115-120 thousand. It is believed that the number of recorded transactions will also have risen since the same period in 2013.

Armagh a hot apple

CPS Property is Northern Ireland’s largest estate agency and has been monitoring transactions across its 5 offices, given its unique insight into the property market, its agents have noticed real differences at local level as Neil Conlon explains:

“We’ve compared transactions across Northern Ireland and Armagh is emerging as a bit of a hot spot, due to the increase in new build projects – which the rest of NI is just not seeing. First time buyers are driving the market here and for the first time since the peak, we have had people queuing to buy off plan. In one case, Rock Development, a new estate off Rock Road, we sold 18 units in four weeks…We’ve not seen this sort of demand for seven years!”

1960’s Belfast

This demand isn’t happening across the board because in most of NI, house building has regressed to 1960 levels with only 4.7 new builds per 1000 of the population, including Belfast. Neil Conlon is calling for the executive to take action to encourage new build construction…

“Developers need more of an incentive to start new projects, but are quelled due to the limited credit terms available from banks after recent tightening of mortgage regulations. Let’s also remember NI did not benefit from the first stage of the help to buy scheme, so a tax break or other financial carrots are needed to encourage development and boost the level of transactions”.