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Decline in house prices starting to slow: report

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Downward trend: House prices here are still falling - but the decline is slowing

Downward trend: House prices here are still falling - but the decline is slowing

Paul Faith

Downward trend: House prices here are still falling - but the decline is slowing

Northern Ireland house prices are still falling - though the pace of decline may be slowing down, according to a new report.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank's Northern Ireland Housing Market Survey showed that more than half of chartered surveyors said that prices fell in the past three months - although the figure was a slight improvement.

Almost half (47%) of respondents said that there was no change over the past three months in the number of transactions, with the remainder evenly split between those who said they rose and those who said they fell.

Just 60% of respondents predicted that transaction volumes would remain flat until February while 27% said that transaction volumes would fall in the period and 13% said that they would rise.

The latest University of Ulster house price survey said the average Northern Ireland house price for the third quarter of this year was £138,966 - down from £240,408, the 2007 peak.

One Mid-Ulster estate agent said that while the middle to upper end of the market is stagnant, bargain repossessed properties are driving prices down.

Richard McCulloch from Stanley Best Estate Agents in Magherafelt said prices and sales are still dropping month on month.

"Given that winter is usually the worst time to sell houses, it is no surprise to see negative results, and with the wider economy in trouble it will be springtime until I think we will see any sort of stabilisation," he said. "Typical first time buyers' three-bed semis are still moving but the middle to upper end is really doing nothing at all in Mid-Ulster.

"Investor properties are selling but a lot of those are repossessed properties, often terraced houses. At knock-down prices, they would be dragging the prices of the lower end of the market down."

Garry Best from Best Property Services in Newry said: "We had a steep rise so a steep decline is to be expected. However, I agree the decline is not so strong as before."