Posted on Tuesday 9 April 2013 by Ulster Business

Property signs

House prices in Northern Ireland rose in the first quarter of this year, but chartered surveyors remain cautious about the outlook for the market, according to the latest RICS and Ulster Bank Housing Market Survey.

The survey found that three month period to the end of March was the first since the summer of 2007 in which Northern Ireland house prices didn't fall.

A net balance of 9% of surveyors said that prices were up in the three months - 61% said that prices stayed the same, 24% said that they were higher, and 15% said they were lower.

This was the first time since July 2007 that the survey's price balance was above zero, indicating rising prices.

At 40%, the net balance for transactions remained strongly in positive territory - 40% saying that transactions volumes were higher in the three months and 60% saying they remained the same.

With regard to the outlook for the future, respondents expect transaction numbers to continue rising, but they were more cautious about the outlook for prices.

A net balance of 33% said they expect transactions to rise in the next three months. Two thirds (67%) of respondents expect transaction levels to remain the same.

However, a net balance of -11% expect prices to fall in the same period – with 67% expecting prices to remain the same in the three months, 22% expecting them to fall and 11% expecting them to rise.

RICS Northern Ireland spokesman, Tom McClelland, said: "We are seeing transaction volumes gradually increasing, which is welcome news. In terms of prices, the picture has been improving in recent months but surveyors remain cautious about the outlook. We remain of the view that there will continue to be seasonal adjustments, and that 2013 will see an underlying trend of easing price falls and modestly improving transaction volumes."

Derek Wilson, Head of Lending Products at Ulster Bank, added: "We expect housing market activity to increase in the spring and summer months and we are strongly committed to encouraging and supporting demand through new initiatives and campaigns, building on the £1.5bn we have lent into the Northern Ireland housing market in the last five years."

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