House prices 'hit five-year low'
House prices in Northern Ireland continue to tumble, with the average value of a home dropping below £150,000 for the first time in five years.
The latest snapshot of the region's property market recorded a 7.6% drop in prices from the same time last year, with the average overall cost of a home now £148,243, according to the University of Ulster Quarterly House Price Index.
The survey, compiled in conjunction with the Bank of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, found the signs of a slight market recovery earlier this year had been put on hold, or even reversed.
Professor Alastair Adair, co-author of the report, said: "The significant fall in house prices stems from a current lack of confidence in the market, possibly reflecting concerns about public spending cuts and their impact on jobs in a region highly dependent on public sector employment."
Professor Stanley McGreal and Dr David McIlhatton worked with Prof Adair in compiling the survey. The statistics are based on 795 transactions in the third quarter of 2010, a figure well down on the second quarter volume of 1,009 transactions.
More than a quarter of houses surveyed sold at or below £100,000, with nearly two thirds costing £150,000 or less. Belfast experienced one of the most dramatic slides, with prices falling by 21.7% over the year to £138,131.
In the traditionally affluent North Down, the average price of a home is now £179,263 - down 11.7% over the year.
In terms of property type across Northern Ireland, the price for apartments fell by 17% over the year to £119,716, for semi-detached houses it was down by 12.5% to £130,956, for detached houses by 7% to £252,581 and for terraced/townhouses by 5.6% to £107,407.
Semi-detached bungalows rose by 10.6% to £131,439 and detached bungalows increased by 4.2% to £195,636.
Alan Bridle, UK economist, Bank of Ireland, said: "With the average price below £150,000 for the first time since the last quarter of 2005, it is clear the residential market is still facing a number of challenges."