Page last updated at 08:58 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 09:58 UK

Estate agents see 'green shoots'

House prices
The RCIS says there has been a rise in property sales in NI

There has been an increase in enquiries and transactions in the NI property market, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

57% of respondents to the March RICS housing survey said they saw transactions increase in the past three months.

The remainder said they stayed the same, while 86% said enquiries had increased in the same period.

The RICS said it represented the third rise in a row for the market.

"There is no doubt that the number of sales taking place has been on the up in recent months as asking prices have increasingly been realigned with the realities of the market," Tom McClelland of the RICS said.

"However, it must be remembered that these increases have been from extremely low levels and we are probably still some way off what would historically be considered a healthy level of transactions.

"Respondents to the survey are confident that transactions will continue to increase, which wouldn't be surprising as developers continue to offer incentives and sellers in the resale market increasingly accept realistic offers.

"However, labour market conditions are deteriorating and this will likely act to moderate the further recovery in sales levels."

Derek Wilson, Head of Mortgages at Ulster Bank, said the data from the survey backed up "anecdotal evidence from agents in recent months that buyers had returned to the market".

Looking three months ahead, 71% of respondents to the RICS survey said they expected transaction levels to increase further, with 29% expecting them to remain static.

A total of 60% of respondents said prices were down in the three months to the end of March, with the rest reporting that they remained the same.

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