Demand for homes in North Belfast is sky-rocketing as the post-lockdown surge in sales sees no signs of abatement.

Estate agents say homes are changing hands as soon as sales boards go up with demand at unprecedented levels.

But a new phenomenon of the red-hot market is the willingness of West Belfast residents to set up home in the north of the city.

"I know, westies often joke that they get a nosebleed once they pass Castle Street but we have seen a steady flow of home-buyers making the west-north switch," said one veteran of the property market. "There's no doubt it's a wrench but the reality is that the value is better and, once settled, the newcomers get to appreciate the beauty and amenities of North Belfast. The views down to the lough are breathtaking and Cave Hill is at your very doorstep."

The most troubled area during the years of conflict, many say North Belfast has also been the slowest to shake off the past — the Holy Cross school picket, the Twadell encampment and sectarian attacks at interfaces have all marred the area's image.

However, those who have made North Belfast their home after sampling all areas of the city say they have never looked back. "It's true there is still a hangover from more troubled times but the reality is that the vast majority of people in North Belfast are keen to live peaceably with their neighbours," said long-time North Belfast resident Andy Graham. "There are great schools here, superb shops and the proposed Giant's Park shows the potential exists to continue the positive transformation of the area."

Living in the shadow of the Cave Hill, Andy is a big fan of the Waterworks and the North Foreshore. "It's like being in the countryside. Everywhere you look is just green."

A native of Scotland, Andy says there is a strong sense of community in North Belfast. "Through our son's school, I got to meet a lot of great parents and then Naomh Éanna has really boosted the sense of neighbourliness. And people of all backgrounds get on well where we are — though I can't speak for other areas closer to town."

And the really good news for house-hunters it that there is a distinct buyer's premium in North Belfast with homes on average 20 per cent cheaper than similar homes in West Belfast and up to 40 per cent cheaper than their South Belfast counterparts. 

That's best illustrated by a one-bedroom apartment for sale on Antrim Road through McGranaghan's with an asking price of £82,500 while a roughly similar apartment in Stockmans Lane at the border of west and south Belfast had a starting price of £104,950.