Northern Ireland

NI house prices hit five year low

Image caption NI estate agents sold 795 properties in three months

The average house price in Northern Ireland has fallen below £150,000 for the first time in nearly five years, according to a survey.

The report, carried out by the University of Ulster (UU), put the average price at £148,243 - down from £163,459 in the previous quarter.

It is the first time since 2005 that the average house price has dipped below £150,000.

The report said it was clear the market still faced challenges.

The UU Quarterly House Price Index, produced in partnership with the Bank of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, covered the third quarter of 2010.

The findings were based on 795 transactions - a figure well down on the second quarter volume of 1009.

The authors of the report, Professor Alastair Adair, Professor Stanley McGreal and Dr David McIlhatton, said the downturn in figures highlighted the challenges facing the market.

Buyers discouraged

"The significant fall in house prices stems from a current lack of confidence in the market possibly reflecting concerns about public spending cuts and their impact on jobs in a region highly dependent on public sector employment."

Bank Of Ireland UK Economist Alan Bridle highlighted the fall in prices in Belfast with the average price of housing falling substantially by 21.7% over the year to £138,131.

The highest priced city location was south Belfast where the average fell sharply to £183,560, followed by the east (£174,459), west (£125,096) and north (£97,293).

"Potential buyers remain discouraged by uncertainty over economic prospects and in terms of supply there is no shortage of houses available to buy or to rent," Mr Bridle said.

"A particular theme of this survey is that the previously resilient market in Belfast has been less strong in the third quarter - and turnover of properties remains weak by historic standards."

The survey indicated that the market is becoming increasingly affordable, with more than a quarter of houses selling at or below £100,000.

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