Stamp duty extension pushes up home sales

New buyer enquiries in Northern Ireland were the highest on record in March, according to latest RICS and Ulster Bank NI Residential Market Survey...

Latest RICS and Ulster Bank NI Residential Market Survey.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said all members questioned for a recent survey reported an increase in the number of people thinking of buying a new home in Northern Ireland – the highest rise recorded in the survey’s 15-year history.

The growth may be explained by the extension of the stamp duty holiday announced early last month. According to the report, more homes were sold in March than the month before. That left surveyors optimistic for the future, with most expecting the number of houses sold to increase over the next quarter. But even with more homes being put on the market, anecdotally, there does not appear to be enough to meet demand.

When it comes to prices, there continued to be upward pressure, something that surveyors expect to continue over the three months ahead. Around 75% questioned reported rising prices in March, with many also expecting rising prices between April and June.

Samuel Dickey, RICS Northern Ireland
Residential Property Spokesman.

Samuel Dickey, RICS Northern Ireland Residential Property Spokesman, said, “The results from the latest survey suggest the decision by the Chancellor to extend the stamp duty break and then taper its expiry has had some impact on demand and activity.

“However, underlying demand was already strong with people making up for lost ground from last year, and many seeking to move for more space. The survey’s indicators suggest that demand will also remain strong in the months ahead. One of the concerns in the market though continues to be limited supply.”

Terry Robb, Head of Personal
Banking at Ulster Bank.

Terry Robb, Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank, said, “March completed a strong quarter for mortgage demand. Despite the restrictions in place during the quarter, people have continued to apply for mortgages and move forward with home purchases and house moves; and of course there are remortgages happening as well. Looking to the three months ahead, our pipeline suggests that mortgage activity will continue to be strong.”

As a globally recognised professional body RICS promotes and enforces the highest professional qualifications and standards in the development and management of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.

As part of their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, RICS successfully called for government interventions such as the stamp duty holiday to assist a post pandemic housing market. Meanwhile, their policy report recommendations were reflected in a Government announcement around incentives for retrofitting to help stimulate the building sector.

To read RICS’ full survey report visit