Northern Ireland house price tipped to rise 3% in 2017
Estate agents say sales will also rise though supply tight
Northern Ireland house prices are expected to grow by around 3% during 2017, according to a major industry body.
A report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) today said house sales and prices would edge up over the first three months of this year.
The survey, carried out with Ulster Bank, also found that supply was a key concern for estate agents, with the number of homes coming onto the market at a standstill over the last few months.
According to the separate house price index by Land and Property Services, the average house price in Northern Ireland for the third quarter of 2016 was £124,093, up 5.4% over a 12-month period.
Samuel Dickey, residential property spokesman at RICS, said: "RICS has forecast that house prices in the UK will rise by around 3%, and we anticipate a not dissimilar growth trajectory in Northern Ireland."
He added: "2017 will be a year of economic challenges, linked to political events, but the fact that supply isn't currently meeting demand, should lead to prices edging upwards, while transaction activity in 2017 is expected to be stable."
Estate agent Simon Brien, who has branches in Holywood, Co Down, along with two premises in Belfast, said the business was experiencing a busy start to the year.
"There is a great buzz and we have had a great start to January," he said.
"Our first week of trading in January would usually be very quiet, but in fact we had 22 sales, although it was a four-day week.
"We had 36 sales in the second week in January, so we are completely bucking the trend you normally have in January.
"But there is a shortage of property for sale - and there has been a shortage of new builds, though that is starting to get better."
But estate agent Richard McCulloch, whose agency has branches in Magherafelt in Co Londonderry and in north Belfast, said he did not foresee an increase in prices due to uncertainty over Brexit.
He said: "We are seeing activity from first-time buyers, but we feel that potential home-movers are sitting it out and seeing how Brexit will affect them in future."
Sean Murphy of Ulster Bank, said factors such as changes to stamp duty on buy-to-let property had hit the market in 2016, along with political events.
"Last year saw events of considerable significant for the housing market, including the changes in stamp duty and the European Union referendum, which combined to impact on confidence and activity in the middle of the year.
"The Northern Ireland housing market, however, enters 2017 with the anticipation of growth in both prices and transactions, and our own expectation at Ulster Bank is for strong mortgage demand, with the ongoing very low interest rate environment and people's desire to own their own home."