Northern Ireland housing price collapse enters sixth year
Northern Ireland is facing its sixth year in a row of falling house prices as the boom years recede further into the past, a survey of property professionals said.
The latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) survey said prices would keep falling in the first few months of the year, even if more deals were done.
RICS first reported a fall in prices in August 2007 and its monthly survey has been revealing the same trend ever since.
According to the last University of Ulster house price survey, published in November, the average house price in Northern Ireland is £139,691 - compared to a peak in 2007 of £240,408.
Most of the estate agents surveyed by RICS in December said they expected prices to fall between January and March, but the biggest number since July were expecting more activity.
RICS Northern Ireland spokesman Tom McClelland said: "2012 is shaping up as an interesting year - will Germany pay to save the euro and what will happen to Greece? These much larger events, along with local public spending cuts and the weight of bad debt still in the local system, will affect the housing market.
"I would also expect that those who price their houses in line with the realities of the market will continue to achieve sales.
"Recent auction results show relatively low selling prices but relatively bullish activity."
Richard McCulloch, of Stanley Best Estate Agents in Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, said the survey reflected his experiences.
"There is a lot more realistic pricing from our vendors, and some price reductions. It would suggest that vendors are expecting prices to fall but are pricing accurately to sell this year."
He said he expected prices to keep falling until the beginning of next year, when he predicted they would stabilise but not rise.
House prices peaked in Northern Ireland in 2007 when the average house price was £240,408. Now the average price is closer to £140,000 - but those estate agents surveyed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors feel worse is to come. While many believe more deals are taking place, many of these are at the lower end of the market.