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north of the border

Could Belfast be the answer to your property woes?

The property market in Northern Ireland’s first city is set for growth in 2015.

THE DUBLIN PROPERTY market is not a welcoming place at the moment for first-time buyers.

Rising house prices and new rules from the Central Bank have put costs out of the reach of many looking to step onto the property ladder.

But two hours drive away, in the Northern Irish capital of Belfast, prices are noticeably more modest.

In north Belfast, the average price of a house sits at £105,087 (€134,512). In west Belfast that drops to £87,622 (€112,157).

Last year the average asking price in Dublin city centre stood at €258,108. While some of the surrounding areas were broadly similarly, average price increased to €455,649 in south country Dublin and €307,337 for south Dublin city.

What value is there to be found north of the border? 

Speaking to, Brian Dempsey, a partner in DNG estate agents in Stillorgan, explains that while he has not seen much enthusiasm for buying over the border in recent times, he sees no reason why investing in Belfast wouldn’t be a good idea.

“Given the rise in the prices in Dublin – people are going all over the country. People are looking to Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway. One or two bedroom properties in those kinds of areas as investments,” said Dempsey. 

There’s no reasons why anyone would be deterred from buying a property in Belfast. It would fall into that category of the way things are going.

On the potential difficulty of buying a house outside of the Irish jurisdiction, Dempsey said, “you can just walk up there and buy one in the morning if you want. The restricting factor is that banks would have their conditions on mortgages they are willing to give out”.

A big deterrent to investing in Northern Ireland and Belfast specifically is a perception around violence and unrest in the city. For Dempsey, this could potentially be taken as a positive.

Sometimes you have to take a disadvantage and turn it into an advantage. If everybody wanted to invest in Belfast then there wouldn’t be any reason to invest there. People have fear and ignorance about certain areas. Belfast has a university like Dublin and a city centre like Dublin and it’s considerably cheaper, so why not?

What is it that affects the market? 

Much like the Republic of Ireland, house prices in Northern Ireland hit their own peak in 2007 and thereafter saw a dramatic crash. 

But, unlike south of the border, house prices have risen at a much more sustainable rate since then.

Speaking to about this, Paddy Turley from Ulster Property Sales, said:

With regards to prices in Belfast – there is value to be had if there is finance available. Nobody can say that a home will go up by X percent – that not possible. But my personal view would be that increases occur incrementally. This is down to a lack of finance and the stricter lending criteria.

In Northern Ireland prices remain around 47% below their 2007 peak. Since April last year mortgage lenders in the UK have been restricted by the terms of the Mortgage Market Review.  While growth is predicted this year, the rapid increases that have been seen in the Irish market are not expected to take hold.

According to Turley, a starting investment property in the city could begin at around £50,000 (€64,000) – which would be expected to bring in around £400 (€510) a month in rent.

A couple looking for their first home could expect a well-conditioned two-bedroom terrace for somewhere between £80,000 and £100,000 (€102,000 – €128,000).

“Will it go back to the peak – no – and that is a good thing. Areas like the Malone Road and Stranmillis, month on month, over the last couple of years, we’ve seen an incremental point increase,” said Turley.

Read: Irish consumers had their best Christmas for seven years

Also: Residents ‘sceptical’ on plans to re-open Love/Hate flats

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