Northern Ireland house prices rise 10% in year
House prices in Northern Ireland have increased by 10% in the last year - in what appears to be the strongest sign of recovery yet.
According to the latest Residential Property Price Index (RPPI) report, prices rose by a tenth between the second quarter of 2013 and the same period this year.
The index measures changes in the price of residential property sold here using stamp duty information recorded by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs.
Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey described it as "the most encouraging report on the state of the Northern Ireland housing market since before the property downturn began".
Results issued by Land & Property Services and the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency also indicate that between Quarter One (January-March) and Quarter Two (April-June) of this year, residential property prices increased by 4%.
Over 4,800 verified residential properties were sold between April and June, representing a 25% increase on the number sold in the second quarter of last year.
House prices are now 1% higher than the first quarter of 2005.
Stormont Finance Minister Simon Hamilton welcomed evidence of a continued recovery in the market, which suffered a significant bust.
"I am encouraged to see that the Northern Ireland housing market is increasingly active, with more than 4,800 residential properties sold this quarter," he said.
"This represents a 25% increase on the number sold in the same quarter of 2013 and provides evidence of buyers' growing confidence in the market.
"This steady upward trend is a further indication that the property market here is stabilising.
"Notably, the report shows the increase applies in both urban and rural areas. This positive change tells us the market right across Northern Ireland is continuing to show signs of recovery."
The RPPI figures show the market rose in 2005, more sharply through 2006 and the first half of 2007 to reach a peak in the third quarter of that year. After quarter three of 2007 the RPPI fell sharply, leading to prices stabilising in 2009. Then between 2010 and the end of 2012 the decline continued at a less marked rate.
While the latest figures are nowhere near 2007 boom levels, prices have been rising steadily since the low experienced at the start of 2013.
Neil Murphy of Michael Chandler Estate Agents said: "There is no doubt that house prices are starting to rise. In the last six months alone, we have experienced a strong period of growth."