House prices in Northern Ireland have risen for the ninth month in a row, property surveyors have said.
The number of sales has also increased and experts predicted more “positive growth” later this year.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said it expected average prices to rise by about 4% during this year.
Spokesman Samuel Dickey said: “The trajectory of house prices in Northern Ireland is continuing to broadly align with the wider economic picture, as a range of indicators are pointing to positive growth.
“The evidence is that overall transaction levels are also picking up, something that we expect to see continuing into the spring and summer months, when the market is traditionally busier.
“Whilst the picture across the Northern Ireland housing market is varied, with some geographical areas having better experiences than others, we also expect average prices to rise in the months ahead, and by about 4% over the course of this year.”
It was the ninth consecutive month in which more local chartered surveyors reported rising than falling prices.
At a UK-wide level, the cost of a home continued to rise during February, albeit at a slightly slower pace than in previous months. Last month 45% more UK chartered surveyors saw prices rise rather than fall. The cost of a home has now risen in the UK for 11 consecutive months.
Growth in Northern Ireland was relatively slow to begin, compared to the rest of the UK. Across the UK prices are rising in many regions, driven largely by the lack of properties coming onto the market as well as government support for buyers, and there have been fears of another bubble.
Halifax mortgage lender’s latest survey shows that prices rose by 2.4% last month across the UK, leaving them 7.9% higher than a year ago.
That was the fastest annual pace of increase since October 2007 and means the average UK home now costs £179,872.
Derek Wilson, head of lending products at Ulster Bank, said a range of indicators are pointing to improvements in the housing market, including the latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders which show that the total number of loans advanced for house purchase in Northern Ireland was up 7% in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the previous quarter, and up 21% compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.