The highest number of houses have also been sold in in the January to March period of 2014 since the same quarter of 2007.In the first three months of 2014, property prices have jumped 3%.However, house prices in the region remain 6% lower than the first quarter of 2005.The number of residential properties being sold has dramatically risen.There were almost 4,200 houses sold in the period January - March 2014 which represents a 21% jump compared to 2013's results.The latest Residential Property Price Index report, for Quarter 1 2014, was issued by the Land & Property Services assisted by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA said that the Index Report provides a valuable, reliable insight into the local property market."The Report provides further evidence of steady, balanced growth from the low point of early 2013, with residential property prices now showing an increase of 7% over the last four quarters."Analysis from the most recent quarter shows that prices increased by 3%," he said.The DUP Minister added that the increasing confidence of buyers in the market is also demonstrated by the rising level of transactions."Over the last twelve months there have been almost 17,500 transactions."Importantly, and reflecting a more normal local housing market in Northern Ireland, the ratio of property prices to annual gross earnings has steadied at just over four times. At the peak of the market, prices were more than nine times the median salary."The current more balanced relationship is to be welcomed and is particularly good news for first time purchasers and those wishing to move up in a more affordable and stable housing market."