THE property market is within months of reaching the bottom and house prices in Downpatrick could see a sharp rise again due to a chronic shortage of homes in the area, according to one expert writes Anne O’Hare.
Ciaran Fitzpatrick, proprietor of Peter Fitzpatrick & Son Estate Agents on Irish Street in the town claims he is witnessing an increase in enquiries from first time buyers in recent months.
He said, “In the Downpatrick area there hasn’t been a new housing development built for over four years and there is a chronic shortage of houses.
“Added to this, if mortgage finance becomes more readily available it could create another mini-bubble, with the pent up demand over the next two to three years”.
The news comes at a time when some economists are predicting that elsewhere in the province, the prospect of growth remains limited regarding house prices and some are suggesting prices could fall a further 36 per cent to pre-boom prices.
However, the fourth-generation property expert suggests an end to the property down-turn could well be in sight with in 12 to 18 months.
“I think banks will lend when both they and the borrowers are confident they are getting the house at a fair and sustainable price and we’re getting close to that point.
“With the recent introduction of co-ownership schemes to counteract the lull the future certainly looks more promising than it has been.”
Recalling the effects on the local housing market over the last few years Ciaran said, “I have never witnessed such a rapid decline in house prices since I began working as an estate agent in my father’s business.
“This has never been seen before in Northern Ireland, not even in my father’s time. Northern Ireland house prices were generally low and we witnessed a slight blip in the early 1990’s, but nothing to the scale we witnessed in the last three to four years.
Today, Ciaran’s projections for the future are more optimistic. He added, “I predict a further catalyst will come when the Government implements new legislation which will ease up the process of buying homes before the next election.”