Further rise in house sales expected in North

The number of house sales in the North increased last month, a survey said today.

Sale volumes are expected to rise further in the three months ahead because interest rates are low and prices are much more affordable, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said.

RICS Northern Ireland housing spokesman Tom McClelland said some areas were reporting greater price stability than others.

“The economic outlook remains challenging, with a squeeze on living standards expected. On the positive side, house prices are now much more affordable than they were, and aligned more closely to incomes,” he said.

“Interest rates also remain at historically low levels, with the first rise not anticipated until later in the year.”

The proportion of surveyors reporting rises has reached its highest level for a year and a half, the housing market survey by the RICS and Ulster Bank showed.

Derek Wilson, head of lending products at Ulster Bank, said: “There remains a strong desire for home ownership in the North, and where potential buyers perceive prices to be stable and at levels they can afford, transactions can be expected.

“Activity will continue to grow as greater realism emerges in the resale market with regard to asking prices. Where houses are priced in line with market realities, they can be expected to sell.”

Since the peak of the housing boom in the third quarter of 2007, it is estimated that house prices have fallen on average by 42%.

Some house types are losing value more than others. Terraced and town houses fared the worst, with values plummeting by more than a quarter in the past year, a separate University of Ulster survey last month suggested.

One of the reasons for this, the UU study said, is because of the number of repossessions on the market.

The study also showed that the market varied considerably across the North.

There were lower declines and evidence of stability in some areas in and around Belfast, and in Lisburn, whilst pricing remained more volatile in provincial areas.

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