House price falls severest in North

By Kieran Hughes

House prices in North Belfast have seen some of the most dramatic falls of any region of the North since the economic crisis took hold in 2007, a leading housing expert has said. Tom McClelland, housing spokesman with the Royal Institute of Charterd Surveyors, was speaking after the publication the Institute’s latest house price survey this week.

The survey found that throughout March prices across the North have fallen and are likely to continue that downward trend.

Tom McClelland said the fall in prices in the past five years has been as severe in North Belfast as anywhere else in the North with some property values dropping by up to 80 per cent.

“At one stage a small two bedroom apartment in North Belfast would have gone for up to £125,000, but similar properties are now back to £35,000 to £40,000 and even lower,” he said.

“North Belfast has probably now corrected because prices have fallen so far and the correction in North Belfast has been as dramatic and severe as anywhere.”

He said that time will tell whether North Belfast has had the most dramatic fall of any part of the North and that the inflated prices were driven by investors.

“In the North Belfast area there has been a lot of buy-to-lets, particularly as you go closer to Carlisle Circus, which had been driven by investors.  The thing that drives the property market is easy access to debt and that has stopped now and will not be returning.”

Glengormley estate agent Jim McMillan said that it is hard to predict whether the bottom of  the market has been reached.

“At this stage I would be anxious to say that we have reached the bottom of the market, people were saying that three years ago,” he said.

“I think there is still uncertainty but a good month will give encouragement and we have found that transactions are up. March, for example was our busiest month for a number of years in terms of transactions. There is still good value in North Belfast and things like co-ownership will help support that.”

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