Northern Ireland house prices: real estate agent says interest rate hike will help stabilize market

A leading real estate agent has seen a surge in people returning home to live in Northern Ireland, along with a rise in English families choosing to move to our shores.

He Minnis expects this trend to continue and does not believe that the increase in interest rates by the Bank of England will have a negative impact on the regional market.

While he acknowledges that any increase in the future could be disappointing, the real estate expert believes that a 0.5% increase is ultimately a good thing.

“I have been doing this for 25 years and have never seen the market so interesting,” he said.

“Once the market gets better, I get a little worried about a bad period coming.

“But I don’t see a bad period here or around the corner.”

The director of John Minnis Estate Agents said his biggest problem at the moment is not selling the houses, but putting them on the books.

“Demand exceeds supply, and when this happens, we organize competitions to buy houses,” he explained.

“We put the property up for sale on Thursday and we have 18 viewers booked within 24 hours.

“That’s for a fairly typical four-bedroom house in Bangor.”

Economists warn that the Bank of England’s decision to raise interest rates to 1.75% will hurt borrowers in Northern Ireland and increase the cost of mortgages on variable or tracked deals.

It is estimated that about 85,000 of the 236,000 mortgage holders here hold variable or tracked mortgages.

However, there are about 150,000 people, most of whom have fixed rate mortgages.

“Northern Ireland is a bit different from the rest of the UK and therefore the market is isolated here – we are unlikely to see prices drop,” Mr Minnis said.

“The rise in prices that we are seeing is slowing down, however I expect them to stop and stabilize.

“At the moment I have no problem selling houses.

“It’s a good market to sell and I’m not sure people understand that.

“We would like to see more properties on the market. If we could get twice as many properties on our listings, we would sell twice as many properties.”

However, the real estate agent said the lack of supply made it difficult to buy on the market.

“Before Covid, we had a very domestic market,” Mr. Minnis explained.

“Now we are seeing a huge number of buyers from England, of which 37% are from them, and in general there is more interest from abroad.

“What’s really interesting is that English families are choosing to move here because they realize they can enjoy a lifestyle that is not available to them across the ocean.”

The real estate seller also said the pandemic has allowed expats to return home and continue working remotely abroad.

“It’s great because they’re coming home to live here with their American or Dubai salaries,” said Mr Minnis.

“They have excess income, and this is good for the economy as a whole.

“Many people have returned to our shores from all over Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.”

Despite the positive outlook, Mr. Minnis acknowledged that he was concerned about the consequences of the deepening cost-of-living crisis.

“Every time I turn a corner, someone raises prices,” he said.

“Everything is growing and there is less money in people’s pockets, and at some stage this will obviously affect.”

Meanwhile, Ballymena real estate agent Ryan Gregg is keen to remind people that interest rates remain historically low.

He is confident that any negative impact of the increase will be short-lived.

“It will only help stabilize prices, I don’t think it will cause them to fall,” he said.

“This morning a lady already called me to say that she had parked her house for the time being in search.

“This was the final nail in the coffin for her and I’m sure she’s not alone.”

Mortgage holder directors Rainey and Gregg Property and Financial Services will suffer on variable deals.

“A lot of people are locked into five-year fixed deals, so they won’t see change,” he said.

“Others who do and new buyers can extend their mortgage, which isn’t ideal but will offset any additional monthly costs.”

Mr. Gregg acknowledged that the negative headlines and the cost of living crisis will affect movers and new buyers.

“But I don’t see price cuts,” he said.

“There is a sense of a real estate boom, but there hasn’t been a boom since 2007.

“We did start to see a 10% price increase last year, but this is unsustainable and will not continue.

“Raising the interest rate will help fix that.”