House sales are picking up - local estate agent

HOUSE prices have have not fallen during the three month period to the end of March since the summer of 2007 and a local estate agent has confirmed that sales have picked up dramatically.

Frank McCaughan, whose business is based in Ballymoney, says he has had the best March for sales in a long time with first time buyers clammering to purchase homes in the £75,000 to £100,000 range.

“The market has definitely bottomed out and the good weather has produced a feelgood factor. Traditionally, the market always picks up after St. Patrick’s Day and this year’s has seen a big improvement,” Mr. McCaughan told the Times.

He said the fact that Banks were now more willing to lend added to the positive story.

“We have noticed that there’s more young buyers than before which is a good sign,” he added.

The latest RICS and Ulster Bank Housing Market Survey shows a net balance of 9% of surveyors said that prices were up in the three months (61% said that prices stayed the same, 24% said that they were higher, and 15% said they were lower).

This was the first time since July 2007 that the survey’s price balance was above zero, indicating rising prices.

At 40%, the net balance for transactions remained strongly in positive territory (40% saying that transactions volumes were higher in the three months and 60% saying they remained the same).

With regard to the outlook, respondents expect transaction numbers to continue rising, but are more cautious about the outlook for prices.

A net balance of 33% expect transactions to rise in the next three months. (67% of respondents expect transaction levels to remain the same and 33% expect them to rise.)

A net balance of -11% expect prices to fall in the same period. (67% expect prices to remain the same in the three months, 22% expect them to fall and 11% expect them to rise.)

RICS Northern Ireland spokesman, Tom McClelland, says: “We are seeing transaction volumes gradually increasing, which is welcome news. In terms of prices, the picture has been improving in recent months but surveyors remain cautious about the outlook. We remain of the view that there will continue to be seasonal adjustments, and that 2013 will see an underlying trend of easing price falls and modestly improving transaction volumes.”