Jump to content
House Price Crash Forum
diomedea

Expat Seeks Advice On Buying Flat For Son In Belfast

Recommended Posts

Hello all!

This is my first post on this forum.

By way of introduction let me say that I left Belfast more than 40 years ago and that I currently live in Belgium.

We have a son working in Belfast on the Springfield Rd. and renting on the Lisburn Rd.. We now find ourselves in the position of being able to help him substantially to buy a flat.

I know nothing about the housing market in Belfast, apart from the fact that prices are said to be very high, and I would be very grateful for advice on how to go about this.

I was planning to email our son's desiderata (see below) to a handful of estate agents, study their proposals, help our son select a short-list of properties and then go to Belfast and together with him pick the flat which he likes best.

I would welcome advice on which estate agents to contact.

I would also like to find a website which would explain to me the various legal and financial steps that need to be taken to buy a house.

As regards prices: here in Belgium buyers can generally hope to negotiate a reduction in the asking price. From reading posts on the forum here I gather that the opposite is true in Belfast and that I should be prepared to pay £5K to £10K more than the asking price.

In Belgium taxes and fees constitute an additional 14% of the price of a property. What would that percentage be in N. Ireland?

In N. Ireland does repaying a mortgage lead to a reduction in one's income tax? If so, is there a minimum threshold for the mortgage?

Here below you will find our son's desiderata for a flat.

Thank you very much in advance for taking the time to offer me the benefit of your advice and experience!

Diomedea

One bedroom sufficient, maximum two.

New or recent purpose-built building, not a reconversion of an old house.

Energy-efficiency (double glazing, gas central heating…) very important.

Parking space not essential.

Near to shops and public transport.

In a "quiet" location (centre, Lisburn Rd., Springfield Rd., Falls Rd. - not University area!). 

Ideally priced under £100.000 but for exceptional property can stretch as far as £120.000.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What you have heard about the prices is outdated. The prices are reasonable now, and continue falling.

You can now buy quite a few properties for £100K-£120K (also, enjoy the low sterling, while you can!)

What I would not do is buy a flat - I'd buy a terraced house instead, these are the same price if not cheaper now, and are likely to appreciate more in the future.

I would also not buy in Springfield Road (I worked there, maybe for the same employer your son works for - there aren't many non-menial ones there). Depending on the sectarian side your son is on, Ballysillan/Oldpark or Falls Road would be better. Lisburn Road is overpriced, as is all of South Belfast.

Buying is not complicated, esp. if you can pay in cash. Otherwise, prepare to document everything to get a mortgage. And get a full inspection of the house/flat, so you don't get nasty surprises later on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree about aiming to buy a house, not a flat. Some good bargains around. I'm foreseeing a further 10-20% fall in prices in the next 12 months, especially if the public sector job cuts really start to bite.

One thing though - if the whole sectarian thing kicks off again, some city properties might become unsellable. You sure you want him to buy, not rent?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello again!

I am very grateful to all three of you for sharing your advice and experience with me!

It is good (for me at least!) to hear that prices are falling and may fall further.

It is also good news to know that we will not have a hefty stamp duty to pay.

I hear what you are saying about the advantages of a terraced house over a flat, but our son wants accommodation that's new or at least recent, small and easy to maintain.

He's been renting for the last eight years, discouraged from buying by the escalating prices. Now in addition he has a significant lump sum at his disposal which will make it easy for him to borrow the rest. We think the time has come to buy.

Thank you once again for your comments!

I'll let you know how things proceed.

Best wishes,

Diomedea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Donard Court, 2 and 3 bedroom townhouses/apartments £100,000

Railwaycourt, 2 bedroom £90-£100k

fortwilliam grange 2 bedroom, £90k-£100k

springhill meadows, 2-3 bedroom, £80k - £100k

this is only some that are available under 100k. there is a lot more in belfast

never offer more than asking or the asking price because property are not selling well here

someone mentioned ballymartin, well heresa 2 bed apartment for £56,000

if he has a car and doesnt mind driving 5 miles to work he could look at east belfast. its alot better that the north and west, and cheaper than the south.

heres one on for £80,000and would probably go for less

stay away from the falls road, springhill meadows linked above would idealy suit him, seems to have everything he asked for

Edited by shifty_FTB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It obviously depends on what you are going to spend where you are going to buy, reading between the lines I don't think you want to buy in a religiously polarised area. However I would also be cautious of buying into these white elephant new build blocks, many are predicting these 'classy apartments' will be available cheaply and may go on to become slums or stay mostly empty and achieve ghost status like many of the new housing estates. Also watch out for poor management companies. In general the rule here is 'buyer beware', there is little protection if you buy into a problem, the gov't likes to support businesses and not consumers.

I would say most property here is still way over valued and very hard for FTBers to purchase without parents help. As also mentioned above we are heavily dependant on public sector jobs here which will be in for severe cuts so prices have only down to go. Sales numbers are very low (all time low maybe) so that also indicates over priced values.

To be honest I would recommend renting for a while longer until the dust settles on gov't changes and banking bail outs. If you do decide to buy, negotiate strongly, you have all the cards, no chain, cash and no competition from other buyers. If any bidding magically starts, run away.

If he owns the property he will also have to pay a local council tax (rates), which is also on the way up via water charges (could easily be £1000/year), and often a service charge to a management company which can be similarly significant. These are all normally included in rents.

On legal advice, you will need a solicitor to act for you or your son anyway, and keep the deeds for you if there is no mortgage. You pay them directly using a guide formula, but I think you can negotiate so do. Estate agents are to be avoided as much as possible, they have little to offer IMO, they all advertise on Property News / Propertypal anyway. Unfortunately they have managed to maintain a requirement to use them to contact the seller.

On income tax, I'm not sure if there is any relief on mortgages anymore, in any case it was always taken out at source by the bank. If he was to rent out the property he could claim the interest as a business expense, but the tax man will want a cut on capital gain tax if the house is sold for a gain after that.

On energy efficiency we now have a requirement for an energy performance certificate for any house advertised, however it is not policed and most properties are advertised without it. It is also based on documentation/observation and not testing. New build requirements are fairly good, but poor build quality and cheap equipment can lead to inefficiencies, and it won't be as good as you are probably used to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello again and a very big thanks to the latest three listers who have taken time to share their expertise with me. I appreciate it very much. In the light of what you are saying I am beginning to doubt whether now is the right time to buy...

I plan to travel to Belfast for a few days in mid-November and I will take time to have a look at some properties with my son. In the light of that and of what friends and family (and perhaps other listers on this forum) advise we will then decide whether to proceed to buy or to bide our time.

Let me say again how grateful I am to all of you who have been so kind as to reply to my query. No amount of surfing the Internet would have given me the information and insights that you have. If I remember correctly they used say when I was a little boy "I'll mark your book for you" or something to that effect. It is what you have done. Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say most property here is still way over valued and very hard for FTBers to purchase without parents help. As also mentioned above we are heavily dependant on public sector jobs here which will be in for severe cuts so prices have only down to go. Sales numbers are very low (all time low maybe) so that also indicates over priced values.

To be honest I would recommend renting for a while longer until the dust settles on gov't changes and banking bail outs. If you do decide to buy, negotiate strongly, you have all the cards, no chain, cash and no competition from other buyers. If any bidding magically starts, run away.

If he owns the property he will also have to pay a local council tax (rates), which is also on the way up via water charges (could easily be £1000/year), and often a service charge to a management company which can be similarly significant. These are all normally included in rents.

On legal advice, you will need a solicitor to act for you or your son anyway, and keep the deeds for you if there is no mortgage. You pay them directly using a guide formula, but I think you can negotiate so do. Estate agents are to be avoided as much as possible, they have little to offer IMO, they all advertise on Property News / Propertypal anyway. Unfortunately they have managed to maintain a requirement to use them to contact the seller.

On energy efficiency we now have a requirement for an energy performance certificate for any house advertised, however it is not policed and most properties are advertised without it. It is also based on documentation/observation and not testing. New build requirements are fairly good, but poor build quality and cheap equipment can lead to inefficiencies, and it won't be as good as you are probably used to.

Welcome to the forum.

Northern Ireland had the greatest boom, and suffered the greatest decline in the whole UK (and western world, for that matter). At one stage we had, based on Nationwides figures, the highest average First Time Buyer[FTB'er] house price to FTB'er income in the whole UK. However, with the massive declines (40% in the first 18 months and a further 3% in the last 18 months) Northern Ireland has now one of the lowest affordability ratios for the FTB'er in the whole of the UK. The fact that 95% of the drops to date happened 18 months ago and the remaining 5% in the next 18 months or so tells its own story. There certainly are and will continue to be further downward pressures and you have to bear that in mind.

As for where to buy I would avoid some of the so-called 'up and coming areas' and buy instead in the established residential areas. Basically buy where the houses are selling. I would tend to avoid flats or apartments as the banks are offering a lower Loan to Value ratio on them meaning you will need a larger deposit to purchase them. I think we all agree we have an oversupply of apartments here. Whilst that means they will be cheaper and likely to fall more the cost of obtaining a mortgage often out weighs the price saving.

As someone that is involved in the construction of housing I can say that the energy ratings of houses here are a dramatic improvement on what was build here, or any part of the UK, only 10 years ago. The recent changes to Building Control Regulations, which I must say I was against, have turned out impressing me. Particularly the air tightness. Spot tests are carried out (about 1 in 5 houses) on air tightness and whilst this was a bugger at the start there are few failures now and I have been converted. Building Control and the NHBC inspect every new house, about 6 times, particularly at foundation and pouring of floors. To say houses are not inspected or policed would be incorrect (however the poster may have been referring to the second hand market). We don't, thankfully have the micro generation element that a lot of the new housing in the UK have and I will certainly resist this. I am a firm believer in reducing the energy consumption of a house before we start bolting on gimmick to generate. But that's for another topic.

Having travelled widely around the UK to look at developments I can easily say that the standard of construction here is far ahead of anything in the UK. What we seem to lack here is the polished presentation of the UK show village but the standard of workmanship here is miles ahead of the UK.

Happy hunting and I hope you find the dwelling you are looking for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To say houses are not inspected or policed would be incorrect (however the poster may have been referring to the second hand market). We don't, thankfully have the micro generation element that a lot of the new housing in the UK have and I will certainly resist this. I am a firm believer in reducing the energy consumption of a house before we start bolting on gimmick to generate. But that's for another topic.

Having travelled widely around the UK to look at developments I can easily say that the standard of construction here is far ahead of anything in the UK. What we seem to lack here is the polished presentation of the UK show village but the standard of workmanship here is miles ahead of the UK.

Happy hunting and I hope you find the dwelling you are looking for.

I was indeed referring to the second hand market on the EPC. Its a good start, giving the right message but technically somewhat useless and doesn't address the main problems with older housing, that of poor build quality and particularly poor maintenance/upgrades. We have a mild climate so it has always been easier in the past to use more fuel for heating, but is becoming a money pit these days.

I am glad to hear there is some testing on air tightness, a test on heat soak or dissipation would also be good. A friend bought a new build about 10 years ago and always felt that there was a problem in one room. After pushing the developer for several years he eventually got them to look at it and discovered some insulation was missing and some minor build mistakes causing big drafts into the cavity. What the statistics are I don't know, but the lack of 100% testing to me means 'build problems CAN cause inefficiencies'.

I do think microgeneration is good for the consumer and society, agreed alot of it is very expensive and the benefits doubtfull, however it removes power from big companies which can only be a good thing and also reduces dependence and gives the consumer more knowledge of their consumption. I believe combined heat and power plants are the best solution. In time we will get it right, but time is of the essence if you believe there is global warming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • 261 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.