Northern Ireland's housing market is looking more positive than the UK as a whole with sales and prices rising, according to a new survey.
The latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank housing report shows 51% more surveyors quizzed said prices had risen here in the last three months.
Meanwhile, average prices are up around 6.3% in rural areas over the course of the year, with urban areas also seeing a 3.7% uplift. The latest survey shows Northern Ireland recorded the strongest growth across the UK for house prices, with respondents also more upbeat on the outlook. RICS residential property spokesman Samuel Dickey said: "Overall, the latest survey paints a positive picture in terms of the trajectory of activity and the outlook. As ever, though, there are markets within markets. "Different parts of Northern Ireland are more buoyant than others and there are variations between different property types and levels of the market.
"The latest NI Residential Property Price Index highlights this, with new build homes rising significantly faster than that of existing or resold housing stock, and average prices in rural areas up 6.3% in the past year, compared to 3.7% for urban areas."
And Sean Murphy, managing director, personal banking at Ulster Bank, said: "This is the latest piece of strong economic data for Northern Ireland, following the Ulster Bank PMI for August, which recorded the strongest rate of private sector output growth this year. "There are no doubt challenges in the economy, including rising inflation, but the latest survey highlights that people continue to want to own their own home and that the outlook for the market amongst surveyors remains quite upbeat." The housing market is proving to be more resilient in some parts of the country than others, according to surveyors. An increasingly mixed picture is being seen across the UK, the survey has shown.
RICS said the mood remains cautious in London and, to some extent, the South East of England - while further away from the capital sentiment about the near-term prospects for the housing market is more upbeat.
In London and the South East surveyors were particularly likely to feel that homes on the market are overpriced.
In the August survey a net balance of 6% more surveyors across the country reported prices rising rather than falling.
But in central London the reading was stuck firmly in negative territory, with 56% more surveyors seeing a fall in prices rather than an increase - marking the weakest result since 2008.
Sentiment in East Anglia and the North East of England was also modestly negative, according to the findings.
By contrast, the survey pointed to solid price growth in many other parts of the UK, with Northern Ireland, the North West, Scotland and the South West seeing the firmest increases.
Looking ahead, surveyors in Northern Ireland and Scotland were the most confident in seeing further price growth over the coming three months.