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Irish Industry News

10/02/2011

Harsh Winter 'Moderates NI Rentals'

Anxiety over falling house prices, job security and obtaining an affordable mortgage continued to prop up rental values in Belfast in 2010.

However, a new report also revealed today that after the hefty 7% jump in private rent prices recorded over the first nine months of 2010, prices fell by 4.6% over the last three months of the year - when December's Big Chill capped demand from renters.

The latest quarterly report by Citylets, Northern Ireland's largest dedicated online lettings site, confirmed that first-time buyers are also continuing to delay entering the housing market in the hope of better times ahead.

Northern Ireland's private rented sector generates an estimated £822m in rent receipts annually.

Year on year, average monthly rents held steady in 2010, with rents during the last quarter around £559 a month - about the same as 2009, but £13 lower than for the third quarter of 2010.

Citylets Rental Market Analyst, Dan Cookson, said: "We've recorded significant rises in rent prices over much of 2010, though the last three months of the year were noticeably quiet, with few people interested in shopping around for a new place to live in sub-zero temperatures ahead of Christmas.

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"This helped to keep a lid on prices, which overall, remained strong," he continued, noting: "The pressure on young professional renters to come up with tens of thousands of pounds for a mortgage deposit at a time when everyone is worried about their jobs has forced many to delay their decision to buy and caused many to renew their leases."

Despite this, some areas of the market did see a significant rise in rent prices over last three months of 2010, with one-bedroom properties commanding an average monthly rent of £504 – an increase of almost 13% on the year.

The average monthly price for two-bedroom properties, which account for the lion's share of the Belfast City and Greater Belfast rental market (42%), was up more than 2% year-on-year to £519 per month.

The Citylets Rental Index for Belfast stood at 98.9 in December 2010 - just 1.1% down from January 2008, when the Index was initiated.

In the equivalent period, property sale prices in Northern Ireland fell by 32.2%, according to the latest figures from Communities & Local Government.

Dan Cookson added: "Many renters are still keen to own their own home, but the cost of buying a house remains far out of reach.

"For example, a three-bedroom house for sale at £200,000 would cost more than £1,200 a month to buy over 25 years at current interest rates – and that's after paying a £20,000 deposit. The same property in the same area costs £650 a month to rent.

"With the average age of the first time buyer in the UK now at 33, it's easy to see why more people are renting for a few while before settling down to the responsibility of a mortgage."

(GK)
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Harsh Winter 'Moderates NI Rentals' - Anxiety over falling house prices, job security and obtaining an affordable mortgage continued to prop up rental values in Belfast in 2010.