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Ulidia

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About Ulidia

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    Belfast-born. Split time between Belfast & London.

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  1. Don't know in terms of owning but in terms of liveability, I would prefer Queen's Square over one or two of the blocks you mentioned as being the "best" places. In fact, for liveability, a more mature place is sometimes better. Only thing I would emphasise abut Queen's Square is that it depends on the apartment. Some have so little space and so little natural. Avoid those for anything other than a short-term rental. If looking at the development as a home, then it needs to be one with generous floor to ceiling window space and less cramped surroundings.
  2. I rented a unit there on a short-term lease back in early 2006. I had sold my own apartment but completion of my new build home (Redwood development which I briefly referenced in an earlier post) was delayed so, as I worked in a city centre office, I decided to rent there. It was the first apartment I inspected and I opted for it - simply because I wasn't going to invest much time in searching for a short-term let. I moved in shortly after the building had just opened and there weren't yet many residents in it - in fact, I think some of the upper floors may not yet have been ready for occupation. I had a 6 month lease but, practically, had moved out within circa 3 months. Location-wise, it certainly isn't the most salubrious part of Belfast but it was very central so, from the location perspective, it ticked the box for me as a short-term rental which was motivated by desire for convenience rather than a home. However, I strongly disliked the building. Finishing in the units was cheap and of poor standard. More generally, I can recall leaks into the main hall / foyer and large swathes of the internal works of the building that appeared to be unfinished. I am generally ignorant of construction standards and techniques but I do remember thinking at the time that, being so bleak and cheap at the outset, it would likely significantly depreciate (in liveability and relative value) within a short period of time. I cannot speak for structural issues but certainly would never have considered purchasing there for home or investment. Neither would I consider purchasing there now, irrespective of price. There are two other points about the building. Firstly, the streets on either side, are narrow for a relatively tall (by Belfast standards) apartment building. As a result, I recall that there tended to be a lack of natural light in the building which was less than ideal. In addition, it is an ugly concrete building and a blot on that part of Belfast's skyline. Two sides of the building are just concrete and unpainted at that ...... cannot understand how urban planners allow that in the 21st century.
  3. Yes, I was. However, equally I probably overpaid slightly for what I got but did so consciously. I saw some houses that looked nice within the most student-oriented areas (and I'm ex-QUB myself, albeit some time ago) but my friends who still live in Belfast unanimously advised against it as the part that I live in wouldn't really attract students and the rental prices sought would tend to push out of the mainstream student market. Initially, I wanted one of the older period houses but, even the ones recently modernised that I viewed in the Upper Ormeau / Rosetta area tended to have problems with internal dampness which, to correct, would have meant an additional hassle factor so in the end I opted for a modern, but not new, townhouse. Size circa 150sqm so relatively spacious as I live alone (albeit live with my partner here in London and she will come over on a relatively regular basis) - in particular, it has good storage space which is something of a necessity for me. In due course (circa 5 to 7 years timeframe), I may opt for an older period house in the area when I am intending to spend the majority of my time in Belfast and I will be able to devote time to overseeing any improvement works necessary.
  4. The 1 bedroom flat wasn't a particularly nice one and was in a comparatively older development (late 1980s) and by then was in need of redecoration. I sold it in January 2006 for, from recollection, circa £92k. I imagine at the height, it would have sold for £120k+. I've had a quick look and there don't appear to be any properties in the development currently for sale but when I last looked a few months ago, the asking price of a comparable apartment appeared to be in region of £75k. I didn't move back to the city centre but, rather, to the Upper Ormeau Road area. This wasn't first in my sights but I viewed a number of properties in the area during the summer and spent time in the area and really liked it. I like the bars around there and being close to the Lagan. I bought a townhouse rather than an apartment as I like the additional space and because I think Belfast is more of a house city than an apartment city - if that makes sense. I would have liked an apartment and did consider purchasing at Greggs Quay due to the river views, large size and, as a slightly older apartment, it doesn't have the inflated premium of certain new developments.
  5. Apologies for coming to this thread late but I thought I would comment on The_Equalizer's question regarding Finaghy / Dunmurry. In early 2006, when prices were rocketing in Belfast, I had just recently sold my small one bedroom apartment in a central Belfast location and had agreed the purchase of a significantly larger apartment, also in a central Belfast location. Location was important to me because I worked in BT1 and, as something of a rarity in Northern Ireland, I don't drive. However, due to rocketing prices, the vendor decided to pull out just before contract signing and I was left "homeless" (well, actually, it meant moving back in with my parents) for a few months. Worried by the continued rising prices, I decided to buy an off-plan townhouse in the Redwoods development in Derriaghy. This was something I had some nervousness about. In practice, I enjoyed it. The development essentially bordered Derriaghy train station, the development was quiet and respectable - the transport link via train to Belfast city centre was great and excellent value for money (from recollection, a weekly ticket offering unlimited travel was circa £12 back then), albeit trains stopped operating fairly early. I think the last train out of Belfast was shortly pre-11pm. Although I only stayed there for a year or so, as I then moved to Asia, I really liked the development. Note that this was in the relatively early stages of the development before the larger apartment block (or blocks?) was built and, from recollection, some of these may have subsequently been purchased for social housing. Whether this has had an impact on the feel of the development, I don't know as I haven't been back since early 2008 but, certainly, I had pleasant memories of living there. For info, I live in London these days but am now starting to live half of my time in Belfast, working remotely. This is something I have consciously chosen because, for me, quality of life in Belfast outstrips that of London. I acknowledge that's a personal view and not one everyone would agree with. Therefore, I myself took the plunge and bought once again in Belfast in Q4 2015. I don't necessarily think it is a "good investment" in a pure sense but it is good for me as it is important for me to have my own home back in my own city and it is primarily for lifestyle reasons, rather than for investment purposes. So far, it is working well for me.
  6. I'm planning to buy, circa 7 years after selling my last home in Northern Ireland. Will be buying in Belfast. I've been looking at asking prices, and what is selling, over the past 5 or 6 months. Perhaps not surprising but the desirable parts of BT9 appear strong with well located houses attracting bids in excess of offer price. Parts of BT4 and BT5 also appear in strong demand. More generally, in my view, there is a lack of good property stock on the market which could be a consequence of negative equity limiting options for many of those who bought in the "boom" years who don't have the equity to "move up the ladder." This lack of stock has clearly helped drive prices up in the more sought after locations. Also parts of Belfast remain weaker than the areas highlighted - much of the stock in North Belfast looks to be stagnant. In summary, looking to buy in Belfast with budget around £350k max and hoping to see more properties coming onto the market in spring. I'm not buying for investment but for purposes of returning home - although I work in London, I can spend at least half my time working remotely from Belfast and, for me, I prefer Belfast significantly over London. Prices? I don't have enough of a sense as to how the public sector cuts could impact the market. However, I would generally see the market posting very moderate growth / flat over the next 12 months.
  7. Thanks Doccy. Was just thinking back. I sold my house in early 2008, having bought it in mid 2006 (following sale of an apartment I'd previously had). By the time I sold my house, the "good feel factor" was out of the market - I think it had been that way since the start of the second half of 2007 although it was obviously taking many people much longer for reality to dawn on them. The very same style of house in the same development is currently on sale with an asking price less than half of what I was able to sell it for in early 2008 and the 2008 sales price was actually a reduction of 20% from the level it went onto the market at in Q3 2007. At the time, I was very surprised that my house sale completed. As per normal, the transaction took a month or two and during that time, there were continuous very negative stories about the economy and house prices in particular. At the very least, I was surprised the buyers (a young-ish couple) didn't try to knock thousands off the originally agreed price. Ironicially, from speaking to my solicitor, he indicated that the buyers very much wanted the transaction to proceed because they'd been approved for a mortgage and, with mortgage lending policy tightening around then when the credit crunch was starting to take effect, they were worried that, if they didn't proceed, any chance of getting another mortgage offer was limited. Therefore, an interesting and unfortunate case where some people, in panic mode to get "on the ladder", did so directly against their best interests. Next back home in mid July and might make a viewing appointment or two. By no means impatient to buy again in Belfast (and I won't be, given I don't expect prices to go anywhere but moderately lower over the next few years) but I do want a home in my home city. I live here in one of the nicer parts of London in a 1930s art deco apartment building ..... but the apartment is extremely small and it's part of a crowded, impersonal city. Whilst we may often criticise it, I think the quality of life in Northern Ireland, and the beauty of its landscape, is under-appreciated. I look forward to retiring back home, even if I'm still in my 30s so retirement is maybe a few years off just yet
  8. I'm an occasional lurker and being Northern Irish (even though I don't live there currently, it will always be home), the Northern Ireland section is the one part of the forum that I would most often cast my eye over. I sold in Northern Ireland in early 2008 - very fortunate at the time. I was living in the Far East for some time since then but am back working in the UK (London). Increasingly, I'm thinking of buying in Northern Ireland again ........ a house that will be a home, a place where I can grow old. I want to buy in North Belfast as, well, that's where I'm from and it's an incredibly underrated part of the city. More particularly, I want to buy a detached period house in Ben Madigan with direct frontal views of Belfast Lough and views at the back to Cavehill. Interestingly, prices have come down significantly and, aided by a prospective property sale in the Far East, I'll maybe take the plunge over the next 12 months to 24 months. I've seen a few nice houses that potentially fit my requirements and I'll happily offer 80% of asking price or thereabouts and can sit and wait as, given I work and am located in London, I don't need to buy back home just yet.
  9. Hi all Looking for opinions on something. In 2006, I purchased a house in Northern Ireland (sold it in early 2008 but that's another story) and I never received a solicitor's bill. It's five years ago now so I cannot recall the exact details but the solicitor had made a number of very basic mistakes through the process, with the result that I threatened to report him to the Law Society and I presumed that, given he'd realised that he made mistakes, had decided not to invoice me. Anyway, move the clock forward 5 years and I've now received the invoice, together with a covering letter stating, "We are closing off old files and note that we have not yet furnished you with an invoice in this matter." That's all fine and, despite the length of time that has transpired, I'm happy to pay a reasonable amount for the work. However, the total amount seems very high to me for a £195,000 house purchase, esp. as I had previously bought some houses and recall much lower amounts. If it's a reasonable amount, I will pay it but would appreciate views of others here, in particular any who have completed house purchases in NI over recent years. The invoice, in total, is for £2,726.25 and broken down by: - Professional fee to cover all our work in connection with the purchase: £1,950 - VAT @ 17.5%: £341.25 - Paid land registry fees: £385 - Paid postage & petty outlay: £50 As I said, if that's the going rate, then I'll glady pay it but seems on high side to me and would appreciate other views?
  10. Hi all This is hopefully a straightforward question and I think that what I propose to do is compliant with the ISA rules but am just looking for confirmation of this. I recently moved back to the UK from abroad and am a permanent resident here again. I have had a number of ISA accounts with various providers over the years, including one with my current account provider (Bank A). A month or two ago, during the 2011/12 tax year, I opened a Cash ISA online with another bank (Bank B) because the rate was better and I thought it would be convenient to transfer sums to that account as I prefer to save on an ad-hoc basis. Bank B assigned me an account number and provided me with an ATM card and, in theory, I can make subscriptions to it but I have not done so yet i.e. the account balance is £0 and there have been no transactions in the account to date. I had been intending to transfer money to this ISA but I'm finding Bank B's online process cumbersome at best and their online site rather unuser friendly. Therefore, I'd prefer not to save into this ISA and, rather, to use my ISA allowance within my exisiting Cash ISA in Bank A. The interest rate is a bit lower but, given the annual ISA limits, that is not overly material to me and I want convenience. I'm confident that I am allowed to do this, given that although Bank B opened the ISA, I haven't made any subscriptions to it yet. Does anyone know categorically if this is the case? Many thanks
  11. Khards - I think that Northern Ireland is a great place to live (so long as you have mobility and a reasonable job) and I'll return to live there in due course when I'm slowing down on my career. However, you seem to be thinking about relocating to the island of Ireland (whether Rep of Ireland or Northern Ireland) for the wrong reasons i.e. you seem to be looking for a house and then deciding to live there which is the wrong way around i.e. what you should do is decide where you want to live, weigh up all the pros and cons and then live there for a while before commiting to buying a property. Furthermore, given the housing market across Ireland, there is no need to rush into buying anything as prices won't be going up in real terms for some considerable time.
  12. If you come off an initial deal and you find yourself in negative equity (or a very high Loan-to-Value ratio - certainly anything over 90% LTV but lower in the case of many lenders in today's environment), then you will typically be switched to the lender's Standard Variable Rate (SVR) mortgage. SVR mortgages will invariably be priced higher than most other offers but remain low by historic standards i.e. quite a few lenders have SVRs below 4% at the moment.
  13. I think that the problems are more concentrated in National Irish Bank (i.e Northern's Rep of Ireland equivalent). Northern has been relatively conservative as compared to Ulster and Bank of Ireland in NI in recent years, esp in relation to lending to property developers. National Irish, on the other hand, was deliberately aggressive on both the corporate (ie property development lending) and personal mortgages sides of their business - in an effort to significantly increase their market share. Of course, this aggressive expansion was undertaken at the worst possible time.
  14. Being totally honest here, I get very frustrated by this sort of thread .... not because there are people who have pre-bought new build apartments and are looking for constructive advice nor because there are people giving advice (whether I perceive it to be sensible or not) and not because of anyone who is gloating. Rather, my frustration is down to a sense, rightly or wrongly, that most of the purchasers of the under-construction apartments appear to lack the courage / morality to approach the developers themselves and advise of their issues and, rather, are waiting for others to do it and then act .... or feel the need to hide behind an anonymus pressure group to do this for them. We are all adults and we assume contractual liability when we reach the legal age of adulthood .... confront the situation head on like a grown-up man or woman should.
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