Area’s price drop biggest in the UK

CRAIGAVON is the worst performing district in the UK for price rises over the last five years, new research has shown.

The Halifax looked at how prices had performed in each council across Great Britain and Northern Ireland since the peak of the boom in 2007.

The nine worst performing local authority districts are all in Northern Ireland with the steepest decline in Craigavon, where average prices more than halved from £213,844 in 2007 to £103,383 in 2011.

“Prices have fallen sharply in Northern Ireland following the remarkable — and ultimately unsustainable — gains in the few years leading up to 2007,” the report said.

“Average prices in Northern Ireland were the highest in the UK outside London and the south east in 2007. Northern Ireland now has the lowest average prices of any region in the country.”

Across the UK, house prices have dropped by just under a quarter (24 per cent) since 2007 to average £172,427. But the Halifax’s quarterly index — which is produced separately to this latest study — shows that Northern Ireland has performed much worse than the UK overall, with prices down 53 per cent from peak.

Meanwhile the latest University of Ulster Quarterly House Price Index said the average house price in Craigavon in the last quarter of 2011 was £107,098.

The average price here had fallen by 13.4 per cent on the same period in 2010.

There were lower average prices across the market. Semi-detached houses fell by 8.2 per cent over the year to £93,781, although greater price stabilisation was evident between quarter three and quarter four of 2011 with only a 3.3 per cent decrease in average price.

The number of house sales in Northern Ireland continued to show a rise in the final quarter of 2011 although prices were generally still falling.

The House Price Index showed the number of transactions in the fourth quarter of 2011 – October, November and December - was 960 compared with 684 sales in the same quarter in 2010. The authors of the report - Professor Alastair Adair, Professor Stanley McGreal and Dr David McIlhatton - said: “The Northern Ireland housing market has closed the year in much the same way as it started. Although the market is showing some tentative signs of stabilisation, it is still rather thin in terms of transaction levels with average prices tending to be lower rather than higher.”

The survey, which covered some 115 firms of estate agents, showed that 35 per cent of properties sold at or below £100,000 compared to 29 per cent in the previous survey, while more than two-thirds of properties (68 per cent) sold at or below £150,000, highlighting the lower price structure in the market.