Banks must play fair: MLA

An East Londonderry MLA has welcomed the rise in house sales but said that banks need to be prepared to let people borrow without placing ridiculous conditions on them.

The DUP’s Adrian McQuillan said that banks were preventing first time buyers from being able to access the market, especially when they couldn’t meet the banks demand for huge deposits.

Speaking today, Adrian said: “Whilst I welcome the news that house sales appear to be on the increase, according to the University of Ulster Quarterly House Index, we need to see banks prepared to lend more money without placing ridiculous conditions on borrowers.

“We should of course remember that many of our banks are owned by the public purse. In my view this places an onus on banks to assist members of the public, especially our young people in securing their first home.

“I know of many young people who have been asked to meet all sorts of ridiculous conditions such as acquiring so many guarantors or huge deposits which are wholly unrealistic.

“Many of these young people have good jobs and excellent job prospects but are left without any prospect of purchasing a home in the near future because the bank is not willing to lend them money or relax conditions on them.

The latest University of Ulster Quarterly House Price Index produced in partnership with Bank of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, showed that the average house price on the North Coast is now £141,387.

The survey showed that the number of transactions between April and June rose to 1062 compared to 925 in the first quarter of 2011.

Across the Province the terraced/townhouse sectoregained value with the average price level up over both the year and the quarter to £91,000.

In contrast, the semi-detached house sector has declined in average price to £138,667 as have detached houses to £167,750.

Detached bungalows have performed relatively better (£183,583) with little change over the year and recovering from the low average price in the first quarter (£145,053).

According to the authors of the report Professor Alastair Adair, Professor Stanley McGreal and Dr David McIlhatton: “The findings of the current survey highlight evidence of higher demand levels in the Northern Ireland housing market with transaction volumes at their highest level since the end of 2007 as purchasers avail of the current affordability and value for money in the local market.”

They said: “The continuing growth in transactions is welcome news for the local market and while there is still some considerable distance to travel it is a positive pointer towards the first signs of recovery in the local market. The expectation is that as demand starts to return to the market that price levels will follow but with an inevitable time lag.”

Alan Bridle, UK Economist, Bank of Ireland UK, said: “The increased market activity of the last quarter at more affordable price points, partly driven by cash-buyers, is inevitably dragging the overall average price lower as a form of market clearing takes place.

“While the market still faces into significant headwinds in 2011, there is now more tangible evidence of “demand at the right price” which represents some improvement on the very difficult conditions of the last few years.”