It’s an airy 4 bedroom house with a large living room and a dining room. Decent grounds. External garage. Gas central heating. Double-glazed throughout. Only 3 miles from Belfast City Centre and up on a hill just in case Al Gore is right and the sea is going to rise 20 feet sometime before Tuesday. It’s in the Four Winds area of Belfast, a short walk from The Four Winds (a wine bar and gourmet restaurant) and if you walk 100 yards in the other direction, you’re in the countryside. Traffic, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere is bad from 0800 to about 0845 but going home at 5 pm takes about 15 minutes with a quick scoot up the Ormeau Road. There’s an excellent bus service, several schools and nurserys and Forestside shopping centre as well as being minutes from Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, which is great for the nippers. You’re also 15 minutes from Lisburn and the M1 which will lead you to the West and also the South.
We’re moving down the coast, probably in the direction of Ballyhalbert which means we’re pretty much buggered if Al Gore is right about the sea levels thing. We’ve viewed a heap of houses so far – so much that I’m tired of introducing myself to strangers and tramping through their pads. Our intention is to sell as quickly as possible and if we don’t have anywhere to live then, rent until something appears.
The change of pace for me will be amazing. At first I’ll be commuting quite a lot but I’ll get used to that – or change jobs (sadly there’s not much call for enterprise-focussed IT professionals along the rural Ards peninsula).
The property market in Northern Ireland has slowed a lot since last year. Houses are not selling as quickly as they did and, thankfully, prices have begun to come down as well. It was becoming impossible for first time buyers, certainly in Belfast where it was hard to find a property for less than Â£200 000 (US$400 000). There’s certainly a glut of housing at the moment and fewer houses are being torn down to make way for multi-storey apartment blocks. It’s suddenly shifted to being a buyers market with many houses going for just the asking price as opposed to much higher (I enquired about one property last year which was list price Â£80 000 for not much more than a site and a shed. The site sold to a developer for over Â£250 000.) It seems the market is reaching equilibrium so all we need is for salaries to catch up.