Are we beginning to see the first green shoots of recovery in the local housing market?
A Magherafelt estate agent certainly believes that Mid-Ulster people are starting to recognise that they can get very good value for money with investment in property right now.
“People now realise that prices are not going to get any lower...builders just can’t build houses for any less! Lenders have started getting back to dealing with first time buyers. Even the higher end property market is starting to move again,” described Alan Burns from Burns & Co. Residential Estate Agents and Chartered Surveyors.
His assertion comes after his company saw six off plan properties at The Pinnacles development at Mullaghboy Glen snapped up in less than a month.
And Mr Burns said that the phenomenal interest in off plan properties was not just limited to the Magherafelt development - he has seen strong demand for new houses in both Toomebridge and Moneymore.
“(The market slump) really happened around July ‘07 and obviously things have been pretty tight since then, but we are certainly seeing a lift in the market right now,” he told the MAIL.
“New building control standards - energy efficiency for instance - mean that people can get very hi-spec homes for good prices. Gone are the days when you buy a bare house. Builders are now leaving properties which are ready to move into the next day, already finished with kitchens, bathrooms, floor coverings and white goods.
“People see that the build quality is there, the finish quality is there, and the finance is in place. They are realising that they are getting very good value from the housing market right now. This has been proven by the number of viewings that we have had, and the number of hits on our website.
“I’m not going to say that the market is going to go back to where it was,” he warned, “but it is rising slowly and steadily. We are now back to a sensible and realistic housing market.”
Brenda Kerr, manager of the Danske bank in Magherafelt has backed up this assertion. She said that she had seen a rise in first-time buyers coming forward.“Confidence is beginning to return to the housing market, with house prices and transaction numbers starting to rise.”
Across the bank we are seeing demand from first time buyers in particular, with over 50 per cent of our new to bank mortgages in the first half of this year going to customers
Thousands of people looking for a new home are now buying off-plan, a trend last seen at the height of the property boom.
Many developers say half the new homes they are selling are now off-plan.
Buyers agree the price, typically pay a 10 per cent deposit, and then have to wait until the home is finished.
This method does offer buyers the opportunity to chose their own fixtures and fittings.