Belfast Telegraph

Estate agents upbeat as rising tide for house sales continues

By Margaret Canning

House sales are growing and price drops are slowing down, a survey of Northern Ireland property professionals suggests today.

Over 70% of estate agents and surveyors polled by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said transactions were up – the highest in over three-and-a-half years.

Around one fifth said sales were steadying, and just seven per cent aid they were lower.

The estate agents were also more upbeat about prices, with just over half saying that prices had stayed the same over the three months to the end of February.

Expectations were relatively rosy, with all respondents saying that they expected sales would rise or stay the same in the three months ahead. No-one thought transactions would fall.

Over 90% said prices would steady over the three months, and 7% said they would increase. No-one expected them to fall.

RICS' findings back up the content of last month's residential property price index (RPPI) from the government, which said that sales in the last three months of 2012 were up 20% on the same period in 2011.

Between October and December, there were 3,693 sales, the highest since the last quarter of 2007 when 4,329 were recorded.

Stephen Deyermond of property agents TDK said reports of increasing sales were "borne out" by its experience.

"We have had a good January and February in terms of transactions and prices are fairly stable. More and more people are entering the market."

Garry Best of Best Property Services in Newry said: "Sales volumes have been increasing but for the last 12 months, that has been at the lower end of the market. However, we have seen a bit more active competitive bidding in the £150,000 to £300,000 price category in the last quarter.

"It looks like there's a gradual increase in confidence but there's still a long way to go."

Simon Brien of BTWShiells in Belfast said: "We are certainly seeing considerable increase in volume of sales and over the past two quarters we have seen prices stabilising, most noticeably on the eastern side of the province and in greater Belfast, where the most demand and activity seems to be."

The RPPI gave a standardised property price index for the end of 2012 of £91,553 – down more than 50% from the £209,857 peak of 2007.

Belfast Telegraph