There is growing evidence that house prices in Northern Ireland are stabilising, according to the latest report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The quarterly RICS housing market survey, released today, shows that local chartered surveyors expect house prices to remain largely flat in the next three months and also pointed to an increase in transactions.
It is the latest in a series of reports over the past month to provide signs the Northern Ireland housing market is close to bottoming out.
Nearly half of the province’s chartered surveyors said transaction levels had increased over the quarter to June and 45% said they had remained the same.
Where prices were concerned 59% said they had been flat over the three months and the rest said they had fallen.
While no surveyors reported an upturn in house prices, a massive 90% tipped prices to remain steady between now and the next survey in September.
And UK-wide surveyors expect prices to rise for the first time in more than two years.
RICS said that nationally 6% more surveyors expected prices to rise in the next three months than those who expected falls.
“We predicted that Northern Ireland would experience a sharp and significant correction in house prices and that this would be followed by a period when prices would remain largely flat,” said RICS Northern Ireland spokesman Tom McClelland.
“The market is far from being homogeneous, but in general terms we have probably come near the end of the former and will probably soon enter into the latter, depending on what influence any outside or global factors bring to bear,” he said.
Derek Wilson, head of mortgages at the survey’s sponsor Ulster Bank, added: “We have seen a significant uplift in mortgage demand in recent weeks, particularly in the first time buyer sector, as the effects of the price correction and increasing signs of stability have created greater levels of interest. If house prices remain static, we expect this to be reflected in a degree of restoration of confidence in the market generally.”
Meanwhile, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said lenders are reporting a rise in mortgage application fraud as consumers try to get around tight lending criteria.
The CML said its members had seen more people entering false details on application forms, particularly inflating the level of their income.
The problem has been exacerbated by a rush of buyers hoping to take advantage of recent house price falls to get on to or trade up the property ladder.