The downturn in the residential housing market in Northern Ireland (NI) has been the most pronounced of any UK region, with house prices contracting circa 40 per cent between 2007Q3 and 2009Q4. The downturn at first glance appears to have increased the “ability to afford” however this is nonetheless a “false dawn”. Significant deposit levels coupled with a more prudent lending culture has ensured that housing affordability remains a primary policy concern. The purpose of this paper is to empirically analyse the interrelationships between mortgage liquidity and housing affordability in NI during the boom‐bust cycle in the residential property market.
The paper analyses mortgage‐lending statistics for NI in the period 1993‐2009, using time series panel data. House price data are drawn from the University of Ulster House Price Index over the same time series. To facilitate analytical interpretation and outcome analysis, quantitative evaluation is applied within a first‐time buyer (FTB) affordability framework.
This study finds that the relationship between mortgage finance and affordability has been driven by deregulation of the mortgage market contributing to the rise in house prices and affordability pressures during the market up cycle. More recently, ongoing liquidity constraints within the financial sector are impairing recovery in the residential property market culminating in heightened concerns of both purchase and “deposit gap” affordability. The key findings suggest that the new significant capital requirement needed to access the housing market will inevitably prolong affordability pressures for the foreseeable future.
This paper contributes to affordability debate in two ways. First, it examines the effect of both liberalised and contracted patterns of mortgage finance on affordability and argues that conventional approaches appear to present a “false dawn” for FTBs in NI. Second, the paper demonstrates that affordability post‐financial crisis has shifted in genre towards a purchase and deposit gap (lag time) issue.
McCord, M., McGreal, S., Berry, J., Haran, M. and Davis, P. (2011), "The implications of mortgage finance on housing market affordability", International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 394-417. https://doi.org/10.1108/17538271111172175
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