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First-time property buyers can lay foundation for market revival

If there were a poster child for the credit crunch and subsequent recessionary times since 2007 the Northern Ireland construction sector would be it.

Few areas of our economy have suffered so much in such a short space of time, falling from boom to bust in just a few short months.

Most of us thought the worst was over but this latest evidence of a further slowdown is a blow to an industry that had been hoping to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Renewed concerns over the health of the eurozone and US economies may seem far away from our own building industry but they'll do little to help confidence.

Confidence is something that will have to return before buyers, both in the residential and commercial sector, become evident once more on the property market.

Such a demand-led recovery is essential and had it not been for the announcement of the Government's new scheme to help first-time buyers step on to the property ladder then there would have been very little good news to talk about today.

It remains to be seen whether £3.25m will be enough to go around the lengthening queue of potential first-time buyers or whether there will be enough people willing to risk taking a plunge even at our current property prices. But at least it's a start.

First-time buyers are the touchpaper that can reignite the property market and we'll soon see whether this is enough kindling to stop the damp rains of recession snuffing out the warm fire of recovery.