Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland housing market mood still downbeat

More gloom has been predicted for the housing market with expectations of chartered surveyors in Northern Ireland falling markedly last month.

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank housing market survey, expectations for prices for November, December and January are at their lowest since March last year.

Expectations for transactions are at their lowest levels since the survey began in May 2006.

Just over half - 53% - of respondents said that prices had fallen over the last three months, 41% said that they had remained the same and just 6% said that they had risen.

Just under 60% of respondents said that they expected the number of housing transactions to fall during the next three months.

One third said that they expected transaction levels to stay the same.

Just over 40% of respondents said they expected prices to fall over the next three months, with over half expecting prices to plateau. None could say they expected prices to rise.

RICS Northern Ireland housing spokesman, Tom McClelland, said most people won't be surprised by the findings. "The winter months are traditionally the quietest time of year, so it isn't surprising that expectations are lower," he said.

"There was also a significant amount of uncertainty in the lead up to the Comprehensive Spending Review, and now there are a lot of people worrying about job security and about the impact the cuts will have on their lives."

But Keith Mitchell, partner at letting agency and estate agents Templeton Robinson, said regular reports on housing can be "misleading".

"Doing these reports in three month cycles is not representative. The figures are distorted and these documents create uncertainty in a volatile market," he said.