11/09/2012

First Time Buyer Numbers On The Up

First-time buyers in Northern Ireland are taking advantage of falling house prices, new figures suggest.

A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found that the proportion of first-time buyers in the housing market is at its largest since 2001.

RICS also found that 55% of respondents said prices had fallen in the three months to the end of August.

But the market may be levelling out, especially in the Greater Belfast area.

73% of surveyors in the RICS quiz said they expected prices to remain the same between September and November.

And RICS Northern Ireland housing spokesman Tom McClelland said: "Overall, the big house price falls are certainly behind us, particularly at the lower end of the market, and this is the most apparent in the Greater Belfast area.

"But with economic conditions, repossessions and other factors, the average price in Northern Ireland will likely move lower in the months ahead, with price changes likely to be much more apparent in some areas than others."

The survey was carried out in conjunction with Ulster Bank.

Derek Wilson of the bank said: "With first-time buyers making up the largest proportion of the Northern Ireland housing market since 2001, it is clear that the increased affordability has helped facilitate activity in this segment. A properly functioning market also requires a healthy level of activity among home-owners, which will come as stability and confidence are embedded."

(NE)

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