House prices in Northern Ireland increased by 2.9 per cent to reach an average of £207,010 (€242,534) in the final quarter of last year, according to research from Ulster University.
The findings from the latest Northern Ireland Quarterly House Price Index show prices remained stable and continued to edge higher throughout 2023. This trend continued in the last three months of 2023 as the average house price increased by 0.4 per cent.
The research also shows signs of slowing market activity with transactions at their lowest level over the year, decreasing 26 per cent on the previous quarter.
“While the seasonal effects of Christmas and New Year traditionally see a slowing of market activity, a slight dip in buyer confidence remained in the last quarter of 2023 as the uncertainty of interest rates acted as a key factor for mortgage holders and prospective buyers alike,” the report noted.
“Encouragingly, the recent decision to keep the interest rate stable at 5.25 per cent is seemingly paving the way for more attractive mortgage deals.”
The data also shows minor declines in the cost of fixed, variable, and tracker rate mortgages during the final quarter of the year, indicating this trend could continue softening rates throughout 2024.
“Lenders are motivated to build their loan books and attract customers, meaning that new borrowers or those remortgaging during 2024 may benefit from appealing deals and rates available,” the report said.
Separately, Northern Ireland has been named as the fastest-growing region in the UK for newly registered companies in 2023 in a new index from Ulster Bank and Beauhurst.
The boom in the number of start-ups was noted in the New Startup Index which found that Northern Ireland gained 14,000 new companies in 2023, which was a 59 per cent increase on 2022.
Belfast was hailed as the fastest-growing council area in the UK by number of newly registered companies, with a 123 per cent increase in the number of new businesses.
Causeway Coast and Glens, and Lisburn and Castlereagh also made the top 10 by growth in the number of companies incorporated, with the number of new businesses growing by 61 per cent and 54 per cent respectively since 2022.
The retail sector was responsible for the largest rise in the number of new businesses in Northern Ireland with 3,605 new companies set up.
Mark Crimmins, head of Ulster Bank, said: “These new ventures are predominantly small businesses, owned and run by local people, which will play an important role in supporting the growth of Northern Ireland’s economy.”
The rise in new businesses in Northern Ireland is a trend that is replicated across the UK. Some 900,000 new companies were incorporated in the UK in 2023, making it a record year for new businesses.
At a UK-level, the growth in female-founded businesses also continues to increase year on year, with a record 164,000 companies incorporated by women in 2023, up 4 per cent on 2022 and taking growth in the five years between 2019 and 2023 to 26 per cent overall.