Tuesday, 14 May 2024

Last week’s Belfast Telegraph reported that average house prices in Northern Ireland have climbed by 3.4% year on year to hit £192,502, according to Halifax.

The article continued:

That was the strongest year on year growth of 12 UK regions, Halifax said, with the next-steepest in the North West of England at 3.3%.

It compared with growth in property values across the UK as a whole of 1.1% in the year to April, up from a 0.4% rise in March.

Halifax said that typical house prices in early 2024 have “largely plateaued”. It said the average UK house price had risen by 0.1% in April month on month, after a fall of 0.9% in March.

A typical UK home cost £288,949 in April, compared with £288,781 in March, Halifax said.

Amanda Bryden, head of mortgages, Halifax, said: “While there is always much scrutiny of monthly price changes – and a degree of volatility is to be expected given current market conditions – the reality is that average house prices have largely plateaued in the early part of 2024.

“This reflects a housing market finding its feet in an era of higher interest rates.

“While borrowing costs remain more expensive than a few years ago, homebuyers are gaining confidence from a period of relative stability.

“Activity and demand is improving, evidenced by greater numbers of mortgage applications so far this year, while at an industry level mortgage approvals have reached their highest point in 18 months.”

First-time buyers were compensating for higher borrowing costs by buying smaller properties, she said, with the value of flats rising sharply in the first few months of the year.

Braidwater’s Juniper homes at Beech Hill View.

“However, we can’t overlook the fact that affordability constraints are still a significant challenge, for both new buyers and those rolling off fixed-term deals.

“Mortgage rates have edged up again in recent weeks, primarily as a result of expectations around future Bank of England base rate changes, with markets now pricing in a slower pace of cuts.

“If, as is still expected, downward moves in bank rate come into play later this year, fixed mortgage rates should fall.

“Combined with the resilience displayed by the housing market over recent months, we now expect property prices to rise modestly over the course of 2024.”