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Central Trust: Meeting the needs of a growing NI economy

Central Trust: Meeting the needs of a growing NI economy

With a relatively modest population of 1.86 million, Northern Ireland might look small beans when compared to the UK mainland economy.

But this remarkable and resilient country is enjoying strong economic growth and at 7.8% pa in the first half of 2016 (Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency), that growth even outstripped China and India.

Of the adult population, some 70% own their own home. In common with the UK mainland economy, there is a general shortfall in the supply of housing and it is this demand that is driving both property values and rental yields. In the year to October 2015, RICS confirmed that the cost of buying a home in Northern Ireland had grown in excess of 10.3% with a similar forecast for 2016.

There are, of course, regional differences influenced principally by the availability of work, so no surprise to see the strongest demand for property in the five major regions of Belfast, Derry, Lisburn, Bangor and Newtownabbey. There is, consequently, a lesser demand and growth seen on the more remote and beautifully unspoilt north-west coast.

So what does the average home cost in Northern Ireland? Circa £152,000 apparently. Still some 43% below the 2007 peak, but one can see there is a sustained upward recovery occurring irrespective of any post-Brexit jitters across Europe.

It is this growth coupled with a borrower default rate certainly no worse than here, that influenced our return to the secured loan lending market in February 2014. This time around we have the support of the best partners. Legal and valuation strategic partners that understand and protect our interests. 

We are not alone in recognising the potential of Northern Ireland. We have partnered with a small number of specialist brokers, who also see the opportunities ahead and have established their own strong and very productive channels of distribution. 

We are very pleased to see this growth in our business and remain committed to supporting this market for the long term. We have further plans to develop our product range that would closely mirror our UK mainland lending strategy.

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