NI house sales show signs of 'tentative recovery' says report
House prices in Northern Ireland are showing what has been described as a "tentative recovery", according to a report.
The survey from the University of Ulster, produced with the Bank of Ireland and Housing Executive, covers the first quarter of 2013.
The report cautions that performance across Northern Ireland is still highly variable.
It warns the market remains vulnerable to shocks.
The survey covered 1,407 open market transactions from a network of estate agents, up more than 50% on the same period in 2012.
South Belfast, where the average price of a house is £166,000, remains the highest priced area in Northern Ireland, while north Belfast is the least expensive with an average of £76,144.
Enniskillen/Fermanagh/south Tyrone is next at £86,197.
The strongest performance was for detached houses, up 6.4% over a year to an average of £215,261.
Detached bungalows increased by 3.1% to £145,786 while terraced/townhouses were up 5.5% to an average of £85,351, and the apartment sector saw prices rise by 2.8% to an average of £102,959.Transactions
In contrast, semi-detached bungalows fell 11.5% to £103,180 and semi-detached houses dropped by 5.3% to £124,605.
One of the report's authors, Prof Alastair Adair, said: "The first quarter survey provides further support to the argument that the housing market is showing tentative signs of recovery, with the volume of transactions up again this quarter and with a weighted rate of increase of 1.9% in the aggregate market compared to the same quarter in 2012.
"However, it is also apparent that the first three months of the year were difficult in many segments of the housing market because of factors such as the weather."
Alan Bridle, UK economist at Bank of Ireland UK, said: "Higher demand from both first-time buyers at the new price points, coupled with investors attracted by rental yields on some properties, are reported as key drivers of increased activity, particularly in the Belfast market.
"Some modest loosening in the mortgage market, partly as a result of the UK Funding for Lending Scheme, and a perception that prices may have bottomed in the more urban locations, may also be positive influences. Seasonal trends should be supportive of higher sales volumes over the next few months."
The Housing Executive's head of research, Joe Frey, said: "Further signs of a stabilising housing market are to be welcomed, but economic fundamentals in Northern Ireland remain weak, suggesting that any upturn in the market is some way off."