Northern Ireland house prices slump 8% in year
House prices across Northern Ireland have fallen more than in any other UK region over the past year, new official figures have shown.
They suffered an annual slump of almost 8%, tumbling to an average of £125,000, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
That represents a fifth year of falling Northern Ireland house prices, following a period of strong increases. In contrast a recent Ulster Bank report showed prices here had steadied for the first time since 2007.
The ONS said average UK prices climbed by 1.9% year-on-year in February, with England and Wales driving the increase as Northern Ireland and Scotland posted falls.
In Northern Ireland they tumbled by 7.7% to reach £125,000.
But estate agent John Minnis said his company, which operates in Belfast and north Down, hadn't seen house prices fall by much.
"Sales have risen dramatically in the last 12 months and we've also seen a steadying up of prices across the board, and I've no evidence to support price falls of 8%," said Mr Minnis.
BTW Shiells estate agent Joanne Murphy said there had been a marked increase in sales since the start of this year.
"Property prices have continued to drop from the height of the boom, but they are now at a more realistic level and buyer confidence is increasing, leading to more sales activity," she said.
Keith Mitchell of Templeton Robinson said there are grounds for optimism within the Northern Ireland housing sector: "We have seen an increase of 13% in terms of properties sold," he said.
The ONS figures are in stark contrast to a recent report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank. It said members were at their most positive since summer 2007. Between January and March more surveyors said prices were rising than falling, according to the survey.