Belfast Telegraph

House sales up but prices down

By David Elliott

The number of houses changing hands in Northern Ireland rose last month but prices continued to slide.

The latest Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank Housing Market Survey revealed that 53% of surveyors reported that prices stayed the same in February while 47% reported falling house prices. RICS spokesman for Northern Ireland Tom McClelland said there is likely to continue to be geographical variations in the months ahead.

"Average prices will continue to come under pressure, though the view is that this will be less so in the Greater Belfast and Lisburn areas than elsewhere," he said. "Transaction volumes are picking up, reflecting the spring market, but there are risks to this trend due to economic uncertainty and fears about job security."

And he felt the market may be close to bottoming out.

"Recent auction results and repossession sales show that selling prices are down 65-70% from peak price, which hints that the bottom of the market may not be too far off," he added.

Ulster Bank said first-time buyers are one area of the market showing an uptake in activity in the mortgage market.