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Confidence Returns to Housing Market

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Northern Ireland housing experts say confidence is slowly returning to the market with more sales this month, it has been revealed.

Local estate agents agree with findings from Britain that house sales are on the up following a buoyant month.

Keith Mitchell, partner/director at Templeton Robinson, said the market is returning to normal after the boom and bust period. He said: “Properties priced under £300,000 are selling well with people returning to the marketplace. There is confidence out there now and there are buyers out there for houses priced realistically.”

Mr Mitchell aslo claimed first-time buyers are responding to well-priced schemes such as Ballantine Garden Village in Lisburn.

Belfast-based estate agent Karl Bennett, of Bennett and Lisk, said first-time buyers are back, thanks to the return of Co-Ownership. “First-time buyers are taking advantage of Co-Ownership,” he said.

“Many are getting help from their parents who draw on savings or equity to provide the 10-15% deposits required to facilitate a good mortgage deal. Other parents are acting as guarantors to ensure their children can get a mortgage for their first home.”

The increased interest and level of business is reflected in the record traffic on Propertynews.com during 2009. March was a record month with 17.5 million property viewings.

Mr Bennett added buyers now seem to accept that house prices probably won’t go much lower now. “Most buyers believe prices have hit rock bottom,” he said.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders said last week that lending had risen by 16% during March and HM Revenue & Customs published figures showing that the number of houses changing hands soared by 40% during the month.

Econimists, however, have cautioned that while activity in the housing market may have bottomed out, any recovery is likely to be a long way off due to rising unemployment and continuing problems in the mortgage market.