In the last quarter of 2013, there were just over 4,800 residential property sales recorded which is a 28% increase over the year and a 16% increase over the quarter.The number of sales is the highest quarterly figure since 2007.The figures are published in the Northern Ireland Residential Property Price Index (NI RPPI), produced by Land & Property Services (LPS) in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA).The statistical information examines every sale in Northern Ireland from HMRC and LPS data.House prices also increased by 4% over the year. Prices of properties recently sold are under half of their peak value before the crash.DUP Finance Minister Simon Hamilton welcomed the firm evidence of growing confidence in the Northern Ireland housing market."I welcome the latest quarterly Residential Property Price Index Report, which provides the most reliable and comprehensive picture of our local property market," he commented."This quarter's report shows confidence is returning to the local housing market with the number of residential property sales at levels not seen for six years."Increased activity in the market is particularly good news for first time purchasers and those wishing to move up in a more affordable and stable Northern Ireland housing market."The minister added: "The 4% increase over 2013 in house prices, tells us the Northern Ireland property market is moving in the right direction."This is the highest positive annual change since the fourth quarter of 2007, and is another sign of confidence in the market."