NI housing market sees battles

The chaotic situation in the province's property market means that Northern Ireland's solicitors will witness an increasing number of people turning to underhand methods to secure the best deals.

While during the past 18 months, solicitors in Northern Ireland had to complete many new surveys, as property prices leapt on a daily basis, it could be that the boom is headed for a bust.

Siobhan McAleer, who opened the first Mortgage Shop in Belfast 15 years ago, says that the housing market has become subject to new tactics as investors make the most of their assets and play on the risk factor of a crash.

Ms MsAleer explained to the Belfast Telegraph: "Equity in a house gives people confidence. People live from month to month and now they are able to do that, but still have a cushion.

"There are those people who felt they had to have a buy-to-let property so confidence can go a step too far."

She suggested that solicitors in Belfast have had to deal with 'gazundering', a practice which involves a buyer agreeing to a price and dropping it before sealing the deal.

"Vendors won't talk about it. Nobody wants to talk about dropping prices by tens of thousands before selling," she said. "And that is happening here on a very big scale. No purchaser is really that proud of doing it, but it is happening.

Ms McAleer gives instances of prices gazundered from £535,000 to £495,000 in two days and from £375,000 to £335,000. "There are very few completions now without that going on," she claimed. "It is going on, it is just to what extent we don't know."

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