“What’s the internet like here – that’s the first question I get asked,” said Scott Edmondson of Country Estates in Ballymena.
He said people were less concerned with the location of properties and more concerned with the speed of the internet connection and the size of the garden given that as a nation we’ve been spending more time at home due to the pandemic.
According to the Halifax’s House Price Index published yesterday, house prices in Northern Ireland have risen by 10.6%. That figure matches the Ulster Bank index from November, though Nationwide’s index from last month had the rise at 12.1%.
Scott said: “What we found in Ballymena in November and December was that it was a bit quieter, but the volume of sales in the first part of 2021 was phenomenal.
“It’s very much a seller’s market still. Anything that comes to market is still going in a week or a fortnight.”
He added: “We’ve seen the whole trend change altogether, because what we’re seeing now is younger families with maybe two, three, four kids moving further out of town.
“They’re taking that chance of up-scaling sooner rather than later.
“We had a few items I’d have called the perennials, they’d sat about for a wee bit. When we came out of lockdown they were literally beating the doors down to bid on them.
“We cleared our decks of anything within the periphery of Ballymena – three, four, five miles out of town. Suddenly that’s what everyone was looking for.”
Of the desirable features of a new home, Scott said: “People want larger gardens, they’re future-proofing themselves far earlier.
“When people look for a house, two of the most important things are the garden and the internet connection.
“One of the first things we check if we’re going out to do a market appraisal is the speed of the connection.
“It’s the first thing most people ask when they’re viewing the property. Connectivity is so important.”
In terms of changes to the first time buyer market, Scott said: “Three or four years ago £120, £125(K) was their cap, we’re now seeing first time buyers go to £160, £165(K).
“Another change we’re seeing is, the majority of first time buyers were going for new developments – the smell of new carpet and paint. That’s changing in the last couple of years.
“I’m starting to see they’re now going back to probate sales where there’s a wee bit of work needed on an older house. You’re possibly getting more bang for their buck. It’s having a bit of foresight to see past the houses that I would say have been nannified – like going to your nanna’s house.”
House sales may begin to slow down
In the house price index published by the Halifax yesterday they reported that Northern Ireland was one of the strongest performing regions, recording annual growth of 10.6% with an average house price of £170,946.
Last month a Nationwide survey had put the growth as high as 12.1%, though the average house price came in cheaper at £167,479.
Country Estates Scott Edmondson said: “I don’t see ourselves over the next 12 months being as busy as the last couple of years.”
He added: “I think with interest rates going up that will maybe curtail things a bit.”
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