Eight years since the collapse, house prices return to level of 2005
Northern Ireland house prices have returned to 2005 levels, according to new official statistics.
The latest Northern Ireland residential property price index published by Land and Property Services (LPS) reveals that since the start of the year prices have risen by 3% and they are up by 6% on last year.
The average price of a home is £113,245.
Stormont Finance Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the development.
"I believe there is continued confidence in the housing market, which is encouraging for the Northern Ireland economy," she said.
Prices increased sharply in the period before 2007 and then the property market crashed and entered a prolonged slump.
They have been rising slowly over the last two years and a normalised market is emerging.
The LPS report published on Thursday indicates that more than 4,600 residential properties were sold during the second quarter of 2015.
The residential property price index is now 1% higher than the start of 2005.
New analysis shows that all district council areas showed an increase over the quarter, except for Derry and Strabane, where the index remained unchanged.
Mrs Foster said she was encouraged by the report.
"The figures in the report over the last quarter show a healthy 3% quarterly increase in the index - with positive increases between 2% and 5% across all property types," she added.
"The analysis shows that, over the 12-month period, residential property prices continue to show steady progress, with an annual increase of 6%.
"I am also encouraged that the overall price index has increased and is now above the 2005 level for the first time since 2011."
Estate agent Stanley Best, operating offices in Belfast, Cookstown and Magherafelt, anticipates steady growth.
"There has been a steady increase in prices over the past year to 18 months," he said.
"Demand is very good in Mid Ulster in particular, but supply remains difficult.
"We are beginning to see developers opening up sites again, which is great as there would be a strong demand for new builds in particular.
"We would anticipate a continued steady demand for all sectors of the housing market, as there is much more confidence overall and, of course, mortgage availability is now much more competitive, and likely to remain so."
Paddy Turley, a partner at Ulster Property Sales on the Lisburn Road, said the latest figures are part of a "gradual continuation" since 2012.
"There is confidence back in the market, that is nothing new," he said.
"The supply of houses has been an issue at the early part of this year but that improved over May and June, with a few more properties coming on the market. Demand is good for the right home."
He added: "We are seeing knowledgeable buyers in that three-bedroom semi wanting to upgrade. That market is beginning to come to light and people are moving up the ladder."
Residential property price index in
each council area