First-time buyers enjoy gap in housing market

Solicitors in Northern Ireland may see a rush of first-time buyers squeezing onto the property ladder, as estate agents claim that the market is prime for new buyers in the province.

David Cairns, at the Eric Cairns Partnership, told the Belfast Telegraph: "The Bank of England has decided to keep interest rates unchanged for now, but what will happen if there is another rate cut? This could bring investors back into the market.

"The message for anyone keen to get into the housing market is take the opportunity now. If you wait or put it off you are consistently missing opportunities."

He added: "We have had the exciting boom time; now the market is stablising, which will continue into next year when there will be growth between seven per cent and ten per cent."

His comments come as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' (Rics) latest housing market survey shows that 71 per cent of surveyors reported falling house prices in October for the third month in a row.

Northern Ireland solicitors will be dealing with a varied range of property price changes, with 21 per cent of house prices falling by eight per cent or more, 16 per cent dropping by five to eight per cent, 14 per cent decreasing by between two and five per cent and 20 per cent dipping by two per cent or less.

However 29 per cent of surveyors reported that property prices have remained the same.

Rics Northern Ireland housing spokesman, Mr Tom McClelland, echoed the opinion that condition in the Northern Ireland housing market could attract first-time buyers.

"Changing market conditions provide opportunities for first-time buyers to get a foothold in the market," he said. "Growth in first-time buyer activity could pick up a lot of the slack in the market, particularly if interest rates are cut and asking prices reflect the new reality."

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