Vendors told to ‘get real’ over house prices

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HOME-OWNERS in Newtownabbeyare being urged to be realistic over asking prices when selling their property.

Estate agents say that whilst they welcome an upturn in sales locally, vendors have been warned that they should not risk pricing themselves out of the market.

According to the University of Ulster Quarterly House Price Index, East Antrim has seen a rise over the last quarter from an average of £100,722 to £126,974, although house prices across Northern Ireland are continuing to fall.

Jennifer Campbell, partner, Hunter Campbell Estate Agents, said: “We have seen a definite increase in first-time buyers and investor activity in all areas. There have been strong improvements in the new-build sector. We feel this is due to affordable and realistic asking prices.

“We are firmly of the opinion that the market is levelling out, and if vendors are prepared to be realistic in their asking price, then there is a good chance their property will sell.”

Ron Jones, senior negotiator, at Larne-based Brian A Todd & Co Estate Agents, which also has clients in Newtownabbey, said: “We have certainly experienced a significant upturn in market activity, and is further noticeable by the number of first-time buyers who have re-appeared.

“The number of properties sale agreed during January and February 2013, are most certainly up on previous years. We hope that the bottom of the market has been reached, certainly in the immediate area.”

Last month, McMillan, of Portland Avenue, in Glengormley, reported the sale of three bungalows, at Collinbridge, in just one week.

However, the Glengormley estate agent indicated “more movement at the lower end of the market” - transactions around £100,000.

Jim McMillan, who is one of the agents handling the sale of new homes at Sandymount Green, a new development at Antrim Road, opposite Swanston, also noted a good level of demand in the properties which will consist of 29 new detached and semi-detached full turn-key homes.

“Lots of people have already been inquiring about the development. Inquiry level and demand have been good. The properties will be released in the next couple of weeks and I expect it to sell well.”

Jennifer Campbell went on to say that average house prices vary across the three boroughs in East Antrim.

She added: “In the three towns where Hunter Campbell offices are based (Ballyclare, Larne, Carrickfergus), we have found over the past three months, our average sale prices for these areas have been Larne £72,763; Carrickfergus, £110.000, Ballyclare, £123,000.

According to the latest Quarterly House Price Index, the highest number of sales was recorded in Northern Ireland during the last quarter since 2007.

The authors of the report - Professor Alastair Adair, Professor Stanley McGreal, Dr David McIlhatton and Dr John McCord, said: “The current survey demonstrates some encouraging signs for the Northern Ireland housing market, notably the increased volume of transactions which suggests that there is greater activity in the marketplace, and the overall price level which has held steady over the past quarter.”

The overall average price of a house in Northern Ireland in the fourth quarter – October, November and December - was £138,969, virtually identical to that recorded in the third quarter and a drop of 1.4 per cent over the year.

The report notes 69 per cent of properties in Northern Ireland sold for £150,000 or below, 38 per cent were sold at or below £100,000.

The authors say these prices suggest there is “considerable value in the local market for buyers.”