Belfast Telegraph

Economic fears 'hit housing market'

Government spending cuts and fears of job losses are hitting the housing market, experts have warned.

A survey of chartered surveyors pointed to a decline in the market during October, with predictions of a drop in house prices and the number of successful deals.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank housing market survey suggested the traditional winter dip in the market was being deepened by fears over the economy.

Expectations for prices over November, December and January were at their lowest levels since March 2009, with expectations for transactions at their lowest levels since the survey began in May 2006.

But RICS Northern Ireland housing spokesman, Tom McClelland, said the findings were not surprising.

"The winter months are traditionally the quietest time of year for the housing market, so it isn't surprising that expectations are lower," he said.

"There was also a significant amount of uncertainty in the lead-up to the Comprehensive Spending Review, and now there are a lot of people worrying about job security and about the impact the cuts will have on their lives.

"This inevitably feeds through into the housing market, and will be a challenge for some time to come. That said however, we are confident that deals will continue to be done if the price is right."

Stormont politicians have predicted that the central government cuts detailed in the Spending Review will take £6 billion out of the Assembly purse over the next four years.

The survey's price balance, at -47, is at its lowest level since May 2009.

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