Price of property 'still falling'
House prices in Northern Ireland are still heading downwards, University of Ulster research shows.
Fewer than 1,000 sales during the start of this year reflects a lack of confidence from the poor performance of the UK economy, with buyers deferring decisions because of economic uncertainty, rising bills and concerns about job security, the report's authors said.
The number of deals in the first three months of this year was slightly down on the last three months of last year. The overall average price of a house for the first quarter was £134,560, representing an annual decline of 10%.
Alan Bridle, UK economist at the Bank of Ireland UK, said: "I believe the price correction in Northern Ireland is well advanced. The gradually slowing pace of annual price decline may be evidence of this.
"There are pockets of improvement in this survey, with the average prices now better aligned to local household incomes. However, given the wider economic backdrop and the availability of discounted properties, the short-term risk is that the market will overshoot on the downside, as it did on the upside."
The University of Ulster Quarterly House Price Index did detect price increases in certain property types in some areas of Northern Ireland.
It highlighted the availability of affordable properties: 35% of properties in the survey of 115 estate agents sold at or below £100,000 and more than 70% sold for £150,000 or less.
The new-build sector of the market represented a third of all sales, although this is an over-representation that reflects difficulties in the market for existing homes, the report says.
Housing Executive head of research Joe Frey said: "This year's review of Northern Ireland's housing market confirms that it will be another very challenging year, not only for first-time buyers but also for many existing home owners.
"It is important that government and the private sector work together to come up with strategies to address the challenges."