Property price slide is slowing down
House sale values fall but numbers changing hands on the increase
One of the most accurate measures of the Northern Ireland property market has shown average house prices are down £12,000 on the year but the pace of decline looks to be slowing and the number of houses changing hands has picked up.
The Department of Finance and Personnel's Residential Property Price Index (RPPI) report said the average price of a house here in the three months to the end of September now stands at £94,895, a fall of 55% from the peak of the market in 2007.
That's down over 12% on the same period last year but only 1% lower than the second quarter of the year, a possible sign the pace of decline is waning.
The RPPI includes all property transactions reported to HRMC and is considered one of the most complete reflections of the market.
The report said activity has picked up pace with 3,434 properties, both apartments and houses, changing hands in the third quarter, a 7% rise on the same time last year.
Still, that's down 70% on the peak transaction period in 2007 but is nevertheless a relief for estate agents.
"More buyers have been re-entering the market, particularly those who have been renting over the last couple of years," said Kevin Mitchell from Templeton Robinson.
"Transaction levels are improving where vendors are realistic of the cost of the change."
He said that realism is more pronounced in urban areas where transactions are at a relatively high level compared to more rural areas where the turnover of houses isn't as frequent.
Will Miscampbell from Fetherston Clements also said activity has picked up pace.
"This is in line with what we are experiencing in the market, with prices once again finding a balance relative to income levels," he said.
"We are seeing purchaser confidence increasing and viewings are rising steadily with home owners recognising that there is more stability in the market.
Individuals who have been holding back to see what will happen with prices are again making enquiries about buying and selling, with many seasoned investors again active. "
When it comes to prices, Mr Mitchell said the picture varies across Northern Ireland, something which chimes with the DFP report.
Average prices range from £110,080 in outer Belfast to £85,274 in the northern counties of Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, prices also vary considerably between property types.
Detached properties are making on average £142,227, semi detached £96,615, terraces £95,938 and apartments £73,885.
The latter sector of the market has been the hardest hit, falling 61% from the peak reached in 2007.
That compares to a fall of 59% for terraces over the period, 56% for detached houses and 54% for semi-detached properties.
Richard Ramsey, economist at Ulster Bank, said he still expected a peak-to-trough decline for average Northern Ireland houses prices to reach around 60%.
Apartments are hardest hit, with values falling by this amount since 2007