New-build homes at high­est in seven years

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY CATE McCURRY

THE num­ber of new homes be­ing started in North­ern Ire­land is at the high­est level in seven years, ac­cord­ing to statis­tics re­leased by the Depart­ment for Com­mu­ni­ties.

The depart­ment’s North­ern Ire­land Hous­ing Bul­letin shows the num­ber of new dwellings com­menced from April to June was 2,444 — 19% higher than the same quar­ter last year, and the high­est since 2010.

While the num­ber of homes com­pleted dur­ing this pe­riod fell 2.4%, it con­tin­ues a long-term up­ward trend.

Ni­cola McCrud­den, Char­tered

In­sti­tute of Hous­ing di­rec­tor for North­ern Ire­land, said: “The im­prove­ment in the level of house­build­ing is very wel­come. It is be­ing driven by the on­go­ing re­cov­ery of the pri­vate sec­tor, which started the high­est num­ber of new homes in seven years.

“The hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tion sec­tor also con­tin­ues to con­trib­ute by pro­vid­ing much-needed so­cial homes.

“The on­go­ing re­cov­ery of house-build­ing in North­ern Ire­land will help to ease pres­sure on rents and house prices.

“How­ever, the level of new house-build­ing needs to keep up with the level of need and we still have some way to go.

“There are ob­sta­cles that we must over­come in­clud­ing get­ting land where it is needed and im­prov­ing our planning sys­tem.”

Ms McCrud­den added: “The im­pact of Brexit is yet to be de­ter­mined. There are con­cerns about the avail­abil­ity of skilled labour, the cost of ma­te­ri­als and ac­cess to Euro­pean fi­nance for so­cial hous­ing providers.”

The bul­letin also re­vealed a ris­ing num­ber of peo­ple who are home­less and qual­ify for full as­sis­tance un­der the law.

Ms McCrud­den said: “Lev­els of home­less­ness re­main un­ac­cept­ably high in North­ern Ire­land.

“This is partly due to ex­ist­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion no longer meet­ing the needs of grow­ing num­bers of peo­ple with com­plex needs.”

NORTH­ERN Ire­land’s house prices are ris­ing at a “rel­a­tively healthy rate” with an­nual growth of 6% to an av­er­age of £132,169, ac­cord­ing to lat­est fig­ures.

The res­i­den­tial prop­erty price in­dex from Land and Prop­erty Ser­vices said the low­est priced av­er­age homes were £115,339 in Derry City and Stra­bane, while the dear­est houses were in Lis­burn & Castlereagh, where the av­er­age cost was £159,966.

And house prices across all district coun­cil ar­eas rose over the quar­ter. While there was a 6% jump year-on-year, prices were also up 3% on the quar­ter be­fore. Prices were also up 19.1% on the first quar­ter of 2015.

Sa­muel Dickey, the res­i­den­tial prop­erty spokesman at the Royal

In­sti­tu­tion of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors (RICS), said all district coun­cil ar­eas had ex­pe­ri­enced ris­ing prices, with Derry City and Stra­bane, along with the Cause­way Coast and Glens, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the strong­est growth.

But, he con­tin­ued, the house price in­dex was still 44% be­low its peak in the third-quar­ter of 2007, ahead of the credit crunch and the col­lapse in the prop­erty mar­ket.

Mr Dickey said: “Look­ing in more depth, it is clear that there is vari­a­tion in the mar­ket be­tween prop­erty types, with new build prices ris­ing much more quickly that prices for ex­ist­ing stock, and the av­er­age price of semi-de­tached prop­er­ties ris­ing more quickly in the past quar­ter (5.2%) than other prop­erty types.

“In­deed, the price of apart­ments ac­tu­ally fell marginally quar­ter-on-quar­ter (-0.6%).”

He said the an­nual growth of 6% was “rel­a­tively healthy”.

“Look­ing ahead, the RICS sur­vey sug­gests that this will be main­tained into 2018, al­beit that there are some chal­lenges, in­clud­ing lim­ited sup­ply, along­side ris­ing in­fla­tion and the fact that in­ter­est rates are edg­ing up­wards.”

Mean­while, the sep­a­rate Hous­ing Bul­letin from the Depart­ment for Com­mu­ni­ties re­vealed that builders in North­ern Ire­land started work on 2,444 new homes in spring this year — an in­crease of 19% on the year be­fore.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment’s Hous­ing Bul­letin also said that the num­ber of new houses com­pleted be­tween April and June had fallen by 2.4% com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year, at 1,642.

Ni­cola McCrud­den, the di­rec­tor of the Char­tered In­sti­tute of Hous­ing in North­ern Ire­land, said: “The on­go­ing re­cov­ery of house­build­ing in North­ern Ire­land will help to ease pres­sure on rents and house prices.

“How­ever, the level of new house­build­ing needs to keep up with the level of need and we still have some way to go. There are ob­sta­cles that we must over­come, in­clud­ing get­ting land where it is needed and im­prov­ing our planning sys­tem.”

Brexit could also have an ef­fect, she added: “The im­pact of Brexit is yet to be de­ter­mined — there are con­cerns about the avail­abil­ity of skilled labour, the cost of ma­te­ri­als and ac­cess to Euro­pean fi­nance for so­cial hous­ing providers.”

The bul­letin also re­vealed there were 4,650 house­holds with­out a home dur­ing the quar­ter — down 11.3% on the quar­ter be­fore. “Lev­els of home­less­ness re­main un­ac­cept­ably high in North­ern Ire­land. This is partly due to ex­ist­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion no longer meet­ing the needs of grow­ing num­bers of peo­ple with com­plex needs,” it stated.

Im­prove­ment: Ni­cola McCrud­den

Sa­muel Dickey of the RICS

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