Page last updated at 06:12 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Northern Ireland house sales up amid concern about cuts

house under construction
There are concerns about the impact of public spending cuts

House sales in Northern Ireland are up but are still well below normal levels, a survey published on Tuesday has said.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) survey attributed the increase to first-time buyers and investors.

However, almost 80% of those surveyed expected no further increase in the next three months.

RICS spokesman Tom McClelland said this was because the Christmas period was quiet in the housing market.

Mr McClelland said further recovery in the market could be dampened by concerns about the impact of public spending cuts.

"Activity in recent months has strengthened but there remains, understandably, caution in the market," he said.

Negative

"There are significant economic challenges to come, particularly relating to cuts in public sector expenditure and the ending of the stamp duty holiday is not a welcome development for the housing market."

The survey reported a mixed picture on house prices and overall, the "price balance remained in negative territory".

However, some chartered surveyors reported price rises, with 59% saying that prices were stable.

This is the latest in a series of surveys which suggest that while the house price crash in Northern Ireland may have reached its end, a recovery in prices and transactions will be slow and gradual.



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