Posted on Tuesday 14 January 2014 by Ulster Business

John Simpson

House prices in Northern Ireland increased for the seventh consecutive month in December, according to the latest housing market survey from the RICS and Ulster Bank.

The price balance – the number of chartered surveyors reporting house prices rising minus those who say they are falling – was at its highest since April 2007.

As well as being the seventh month in a row in which more chartered surveyor respondents reported rising prices than falling prices, it was the highest reading in more than 80 months.

A net balance of 62% of respondents to the survey said that prices were up in the three months to the end of December (62% saying that they were higher in the period, 37% saying that they were the same and none saying that they were lower).

That followed positive data in the June, July, August, September, October and November surveys – the first time since the property price peak that there has been seven months in a row of a price balance above zero.

All regions of the UK are seeing positive price data. And when it comes to the outlook for prices, the more upbeat outlook is visible in the expectations data for all parts of the UK, with even the numbers for Northern Ireland positive.

RICS spokesman Samuel Dickey said: "The housing market has followed a similar trajectory to the economy as a whole, with the second half of 2013 showing real signs of recovery. Whilst the market will see variations in different locations and property-types and will continue to experience challenges, the trend of improvement is expected to continue into 2014. RICS expects Northern Ireland house prices to rise by an average of 4% during the year."

Derek Wilson, Head of Lending Products at Ulster Bank, added: "According to the RICS and Ulster Bank Housing Market Survey, there have been seven straight months of house price rises between June and December, and data from the Council for Mortgage Lenders indicates that the number of loans advanced for house purchase in Northern Ireland grew to its highest levels since 2009 in the third quarter.

He continued: "Looking ahead, while the picture is certainly more positive than it was, the housing market is not without its challenges. Whilst the number of first time buyers has increased significantly, the 'home-mover' market remains much more static, as many people take time to adjust to the new reality and set their expectations accordingly. But with a degree of confidence returning, and a greater sense of realism evident in property values, both on the part of sellers and buyers, 2014 should see the market continuing to improve."



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