Northern Ireland, North Somerset and Dorset

Each month we visit three agents across the country to discover what is happening in their local market. This month we meet members of The Guild of Property Professionals in Northern Ireland, North Somerset and Dorset.

Northern Ireland property image
STATS: Average house price in Northern Ireland: £172,005 Average time to sale agreed: around 40 days Average rent in Belfast: around £800 per month


Colin Moran - Property People - imagePROPERTY PEOPLE NORTHERN IRELAND
Colin Moran (MNAEA, MARLA), Director

Over the recent months the property market has undoubtedly faced some challenges. The cost-of-living crisis and the continually rising interest rates have shown to have had a negative impact throughout that UK and it is no different in Northern Ireland. We have observed that there is a more measured manner to the home buying public and concerns regarding affordability in the context of today’s economic environment are inevitably a part of the discussion on viewings.

House prices have managed to hold their value with most sales achieving asking price or close to it. In saying that, the appetite for home ownership has not waned, but buyers are having to put more effort into qualifying for the best mortgage rates. The average time to sale agreed at present is around 40 days. The most common questions we are asked by buyers is: “Do you think that prices will fall soon?” and “Am I better holding off buying until the interest rate drops?”

Stable property prices

My observation is that even with the rising interest rates, the property prices in Belfast and region have not dropped. House price growth has without doubt slowed considerably but, in our branches, we have not experienced a negative trend in prices. I would be confident that as inflation drops in the later part of the year and into 2024 and interest rates stabilise, a greater degree of consumer confidence will re-enter the market, leading to an increased number of transactions.

The advice I would give those who are thinking they should hold off until the interest rate drops, is it is very dependent on your personal circumstances. For example, if you are renting the average rent in Belfast is around £800 per month at the moment. You would need to consider the rent you will pay in the interim while waiting on the BoE to lower interest rates. It’s clear that it is much better for renters to purchase a property a soon as possible rather than wait on a .025 or 0.5% rate decrease. There are a wide range of mortgage products and lenders available, and you might be pleasantly surprised to see what products are available to first time buyers. Also, co ownership offers some fantastic options to get on the property ladder.

Featured property: 10 Grange Lodge, Antrim – Offers over £350,000

Somerset property image
STATS: Average time on sale: 6 weeks Average sale price: £520,000 Number of sales in last four weeks: 6


Simon Russell, Manager

Despite the fact that the number of properties coming on to the market has remained steady and the number of buyer enquiries remains strong there has been a noticeable slowdown in the speed at which transactions are completed in the last few months. Buyers are taking a little longer to commit to a property, often because of uncertainty over mortgage products or their perception of the financial future. There have been some people who have found that their mortgage product has been withdrawn and they have had to look again for finance.

The number of interest rate raises in a short period of time has led to uncertainty and has played into the “wait and see” narrative that has encouraged people to hold off on making a commitment to a property quickly. On top of this the legal profession are taking longer to process sales, again because they want to ensure their clients are in a strong position to meet their obligations. Three Bank Holidays in May also led to delays in transactions and the effects are yet to fully wash through the system.

Shortage of stock

North Somerset is an area with a huge range of properties of all types and our portfolio reflects that, however there is shortage of stock at the lower end of the market and lettings are also few and far between with some evidence that landlords are not so confident about rental levels. Those who have loans on their properties are needing to raise rents and other charges and that is proving difficult to do in the ‘cost of living’ crisis.

Parker’s Estate Agency recently refurbished our office in Backwell, which provided us with a good opportunity to connect with the local community. There is no doubt that our local community want to deal with a local firm with a presence in the village and micro knowledge of the properties in the area. People relocating from the City of Bristol, especially the south of the city, make up a good proportion of our buyers along with those looking to move within the area to cater for a growing family or to downsize.

Featured property: Bracken, Chelvey Batch – £1,350,000

Dorset property image
STATS: Average selling price: £640k No of properties currently on the market: 147 No of transactions in the past 4 weeks: 32


Greg Carter - DOMVS - imageDOMVS
Greg Carter, Senior Associate Director

The first half of this year has been quite a ride. With every interest rate rise – and there have been four so far – we saw a short period of uncertainty. However, once buyers and sellers dusted themselves off and readjusted their expectations, the market picked back up, with an even greater bounce, and our diaries were quickly filled again.

Notwithstanding these transitory conditions, the market remains positive overall. As of the beginning of July, DOMVS had 21 per cent more buyers registered across its Dorset network, compared with a year earlier, and 63 per cent more properties on the market. The increased activity has shifted the supply-and-demand ratio from 41 buyers registered for every available property in July 2022, down to 25 buyers currently. This reduction now represents a much healthier property market, in which movers are less frenetic and more measured in their moving decisions.

Migration slowed

Whereas this time last year the market was awash with buyers relocating to the Dorset area, we are now dealing with more buyers living locally. The mass-migration from city to coast-and-country has slowed, as has the number of buyers registering for a second home in the area. This has freed up the local market somewhat and enabled local buyers (and therefore sellers) to move on with more ease.

While some properties are taking longer to find the right buyer and negotiate the best price, we have been blown away by recent demand for some instructions. Just this week, we agreed a sale for a bungalow in need of modernisation, for £50,500 over the asking price. This was within the first week of launching and involved a bidding war between three interested parties.

In some cases, sellers may need to adjust their expectations on price, but largely, if a property is pitched correctly, we are securing plenty of sales on behalf of our clients.

Featured property: Cerne Abbas, Dorchester – £850,000


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