Real estate prices hit new records last year, despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Northern Ireland was one of the best performing regions in the UK, with house price growth of 10.6% and prices now averaging £ 170,946, according to the latest research from the UK. Halifax House Price Index.
The housing market here was effectively halted between March and June 2020 due to the foreclosure, which caused demand to build up.
Belfast Live spoke to Jonathan Steen, Partner and Clare Greene, Partner at Fetherston Clements Estate Agents, about the past year and how they look to 2022.
The firm has three offices in Bangor, East Belfast and South Belfast.
“The market in 2021 was so dynamic and positive and the demand so strong,” said Jonathan.
“As we went into December things calmed down a bit and after such a dramatic year we saw people relax.
“Once we got to the point where no more completion could take place and things couldn’t cross the line, it finally calmed down.”
A major consequence of the pandemic has been that people are now choosing to move to larger homes after spending so long confined indoors.
The trend of working from home has also encouraged house hunters to move further afield without having to worry about the daily commute to the office.
“It has been a very interesting 12 to 18 month period and since we came out of the initial foreclosure demand has continued,” said Jonathan.
“One of the main characteristics of the market was the slight lack of new listings to meet demand. The reasons for all of these moves are that people seem to have totally re-evaluated what they want and need from their home.
“Working from home is probably something that’s going to be here to stay. While sitting at the dining table for the first six months of lockdown and was a novelty, people are really looking for a separate space to share their work and their home life.
“We’ve certainly seen people enjoy their free time and comfort a lot more and want to be within walking distance, whether it’s parks and open spaces or cafes and socializing.
“Those motivations are there and we’ve certainly seen it in East and South Belfast in particular. Anything that is listed on the market has had an immediate reaction, and quite substantial in some cases, in terms of viewing. ”
Clare added: “People are definitely looking for that extra study or that little garden. While some people are much worse after the pandemic, others have a lot of income available to reassess their finances and their lifestyle.
“With a lot more savings made during this time, their budgets have increased in terms of affordability and deposits. This desire to move really spurred things on and restarted the market, but there was no supply to meet demand.
“Some owners were also selling because they saw properties fetching really good prices and for them it was a way to move on. From the smallest property to the biggest there was really a good movement.”
Regarding the demographics of those looking to relocate, Jonathan said age is not a barrier.
“The motivations to relocate and reassess oneself occur in all areas. While young families seek more outdoor space, the older generation also wants to be closer to their grandchildren and have more time to spend with their family. .
“There is also a lot of cross-border movement in both directions which is stimulating our market. Many people return to Northern Ireland who can keep their wages across the water but work from home here. “
After a strong 2021, Clare anticipates little slowdown this year.
She said: “We have always had a really good December as we have for the last couple of years or so compared to before. People were always looking at the end of November because we have had a good reaction to the properties that we are looking for. have implemented even at this point.
“The demand was still there until the end of 2021 and as we see more listings coming in this year I think it will continue. Sometimes we run into the same people on visits who missed the previous auction scenarios. and are still looking for that new home.
“At the start of the new year, they’re always in the market to buy and ready to go when a property comes up, to come in early and make an offer. There are also a lot of new investors who want to buy to rent properties. to see how strong the rental market is, so there’s no sign of slowing down anytime soon. ”