Just as seaside areas in the Republic have seen house prices grow due to the pandemic, so too has Northern Ireland’s north coast.
The beaches of Counties Derry and Antrim have long been a popular destination for holidays and day trips, especially the area around Portstewart and Portrush, which hosted the British Open in 2019.
According to local estate agent Daniel Henry, one or two people every week are moving back home to live due to far away working, while the increased focus on short-term holiday lets is forcing private tenants out of the area.
House prices in the Causeway Coast and Glens council area rose by 12.7 per cent in the past year, according to recent figures for the third quarter compiled by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra); the increase for the year to the end of the second quarter was already greater, showing a 17 per cent rise compared with the same time in 2020.
The average house, according to Nisra, is now £174,664, higher than the Northern Ireland average of £159,109.
In nearby Coleraine, Henry describes an increased need for second homes due to people holidaying at home during the pandemic which has had consequences for the private rental market.
Ultimately we have to increase supply and I certainly think it would take the pressure off the social housing if we built more in that respect
“As a consequence a lot of people have gone Airbnb… that has had profound implications for the local rental market in that people haven’t been able to obtain long-term tenancies.
“The preference has been to focus on short-term, possibly more lucrative holiday lets… this has displaced a lot of the local native people who, as a consequence, find it more difficult to get longer term tenancies… some of them have had to move further afield,” he explains.
Independent Assembly member Claire Sugden has raised the issue in Stormont; she emphasises that need is outstripping supply in terms of both social housing and private rental and “because we don’t have enough social housing stock, most people are having to go towards the private rental market”.
“Ultimately we have to increase supply and I certainly think it would take the pressure off the social housing if we built more in that respect, and maybe that method more private houses will become obtainable which will help in addition.”
without of supply is also an issue for those seeking to buy, says Henry. “A lot of local people can’t provide to move house… so you’re not seeing the trading up or chains of people moving within the coast area because they can’t provide to.”
Anything that has become obtainable, he says, has sold for a “premium price” due to “need from people from further afield”.
“A lot of people have moved home to this area during the pandemic who are now able to avail of working from home and they no longer need to be in the city or the south of England so they can come here and buy a lot bigger house at better value and nevertheless continue their job and arguably have a better lifestyle for their family.”
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