Published Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Low house prices in NI mean there are more first time buyers on the market. (© Pacemaker)
A new survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found almost half of respondents (44%) reported average house prices were unchanged over the past three months to the end of August, while 55% said prices fell in the period.
Close to three-quarters believe prices will stay the same in the coming three months, while 27% expect them to fall further.
RICS Northern Ireland housing spokesman Tom McClelland said there was increasing evidence that the uneven pattern across geographical areas had continued, with Greater Belfast faring better than many other parts.
"Overall, the big house price falls are certainly behind us, particularly at the lower end of the market, and this is most apparent in the Greater Belfast area," he commented.
"But with economic conditions, repossessions and other factors, the average price in Northern Ireland will likely move lower in the months ahead, with price changes likely to be much more apparent in some areas than others."
The poll, which was carried out alongside Ulster Bank, found half of respondents reported transaction levels had not changed, while 33% said they were down and 17% saw a rise.
Three-quarters of those surveyed forecast that transaction levels would remain the same in the next three months, with a quarter claiming they would rise.
Derek Wilson, head of lending products at Ulster Bank, said: "With first-time buyers making up the largest proportion of the Northern Ireland housing market since 2001, it is clear that the increased affordability has helped facilitate activity in this segment.
"A properly functioning market also requires a healthy level of activity amongst home-movers, which will come as stability and confidence are embedded."