After last quarter's mammoth 28% drop in sales, Q2's 1.3% rise in sales brought a welcome, if somewhat wan, smile to the faces of those in the NI property market.
Overall, the province saw 5,308 property transactions completed in the second quarter of this year, up slightly from 5,241 in Q1 which, as we always point out, can be a quiet part of the year for sales anyway.
However, comparing Q2 2018 to Q2 2017 might wipe the grin from our faces, when we see that the same quarter last year saw 6,099 property sales in Northern Ireland - a rise on Q1 2017 of 17.3%. Now, as you know, the figures are almost always revised upwards between reports, but I have yet to see this factor change the overall picture too drastically.
For example, last quarter I reported from the NI HPI report for Q1 2018 of a 28% drop - from 6,312 property sales to 4545 between Q4 2017 and Q1 2018. The report for Q2 2018 revised these figures, to see a drop of 27.3% - from 6,676 in Q4 2017 to 5,241 in Q1 2018.
But will Belfast bring the light back to our eyes?
Yes, we can take a little joy from the fact that Belfast's sales went up 4.2% between the same quarters, but it's dimmed a little by the fact that they went up in Belfast by 7.6% between the same quarters in 2017.
Many factors influence property demand - the state of the economy, unemployment, availability of mortgages, availability of housing, etc. As we entered the second quarter of 2018, Northern Ireland was in the headlines both at home and around the world, as Brexit's Irish border problem became a talking point.
We also reached the ignominious milestone of 500 days without government in the middle of this quarter, so - as this report states - uncertainty over the various political stalemates hanging over Northern Ireland are undoubtedly having an effect on buyer confidence.
With all that said, Belfast doesn't do too badly compared to the rest of the country. Only three other council areas fare better - Antrim & Newtownabbey; Ards & North Down; Mid and East Ulster - and of the seven below Belfast in the league table, five saw a drop in sales between quarters. Mid Ulster experienced a fall off of 17.8% in demand for property.
With its hugely varied housing stock and vulnerability to instability in the country (being its capital city) I think Belfast has weathered this storm pretty well. I will be very interested to read the story told by the figures in Q3, given we've had an interest rate hike and the ongoing saga of the now-seemingly-unrevivable Chequers Plan.
We live in interesting times! What are your thoughts? Drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org