Northern Ireland’s house price downturn will enter a sixth consecutive calendar year in 2012, according to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Housing Market Survey. The survey first reported a negative price balance in August 2007 and has been in negative territory every month since. The balance of respondents to the latest (December) survey also expect prices to fall in the three months ahead (January, February and March). However, surveyors expect transaction volumes to begin 2012 on an upward trajectory, having fallen in the three months to the end of 2011. In the latest survey, the balance for transaction expectations was at its highest level (+22) since July 2011. RICS Northern Ireland spokesman, Tom McClelland, says: “2012 is shaping up as an interesting year; will Germany pay to save the Euro and what will happen to Greece? These much larger events, along with local public spending cuts and the weight of bad debt still in the local system, will affect the housing market.” “That said, I expect the Northern Ireland housing market to continue to experience large variation, with some geographical areas and property types having significantly different experiences,” he adds. Derek Wilson, head of lending products at Ulster Bank, says: “In 2011, Ulster Bank provided the significant majority of mortgages for Co-Ownership purchases. We also ran a number of campaigns to stimulate demand across the marketplace, including reducing rates and removing arrangement fees for a period."