House prices in Northern Ireland could be set to keep coming down over the next year, an expert has predicted.

Alan Bridle, head of research at the Bank of Ireland, said recent reductions in property values have made homes more affordable.

However, he stated that this development has not been accompanied by a surge in the amount of market activity.

Mr Bridle has attributed this to a fall in consumer confidence in recent months, as people are now in the "grip of a negative mindset".

"We could see a decline towards around £175,000 in the average house price during the first half of next year,"he predicted.

Mr Bridle was speaking after figures from the University of Ulster revealed that during the third quarter of 2008, property values in Northern Ireland fell by almost nine per cent.

Reductions in house prices could potentially encourage buy-to-let investors to extend their portfolios.

Savills Private Finance recently revealed that many rental investors are keen to take advantage of current market conditions and snap up a bargain.

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