Belfast Telegraph

House prices still falling but volume of sales up

By Margaret Canning

House prices are still falling but realistic pricing by sellers is enabling more deals to be done, a monthly housing market survey shows.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' (RICS) research of members found that January was the 54th month in a row of falling prices.

But more estate agents and surveyors told their professional body that deals were getting done, reflecting realistic pricing among people who have put their home on the market.

More surveyors were in a positive mood about the future, which RICS said was typical of this time of year.

Richard McCulloch, a director at Stanley Best Estate Agents in Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, said he agreed with the survey's findings.

"January was our best January for the last three years. Transactions are up, enquiries are up but vendors are being more realistic about price so we are now achieving sales which last year were unachievable. The mind-set is changing.

"When a house sells, that leads to more realistic prices, which is a good thing and will lead to more first-time buyers getting back into the marketplace."

RICS Northern Ireland spokesman, Tom McClelland, said: "We've seen the local housing market enter 2012 much as expected. In the months ahead, average prices will continue to come under downward pressure, although there will continue to be regional and property-type variation.

"The indications for transaction volumes are more positive, though economic conditions this year will likely prevent any significant recovery.

According to the latest University of Ulster house price survey, the average price of a house in Northern Ireland in the last quarter of 2011 was £137,219, down from a peak of £240,408 in August 2007.

Mr McClelland added: "One bright spot in the outlook are recent auction results. The results show there is a significant appetite for property at the right price."