Irish house prices close to or at peak, estate agents say

An SCSI report predicts house prices will rise by just 1 per cent this year

27/02/2014 Property /for Sale signs
Homes for Sale  on the Sandymount Road in Dublin.Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Almost two-thirds of property agents believe house prices are either close to or at their peak, as the Society of Chartered Surveyors (SCSI) predicts that residential property prices will stabilise in the medium term and increase by just 1 per cent this year.

The 41st annual residential property report published by the SCSI on Tuesday highlights that 63 per cent of its members believe prices should level off or start to decline from their peak soon.

The report found the main factors influencing price expectations are the supply of homes, followed by interest rates and changes in the economy. Some 76 per cent of agents are reporting a shortage of supply, an increase of 10 per cent on last year.

John O’Sullivan, chair of the SCSI’s practice and policy committee, said that while current housing supply is “undoubtedly insufficient”, SCSI agents say initiatives aimed at increasing supply are kicking in and that the situation will improve in the coming years.

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“While this is most welcome, the skills shortage in the construction sector remains a critical issue which needs to be addressed,” he said.

In total there were 59,967 residential transactions in Ireland in 2023, down 4 per cent year on year.

The report highlights that 36 per cent of all sales instructions in the final quarter of 2023 came from landlords selling their investment properties.

While down 4 per cent on last year, Mr O’Sullivan said landlords are still exiting the market “in substantial numbers”.

He said the main reason rental units are not coming on to the market is due to complex and restrictive rent legislation, followed by a potential change in Government and housing policy, and net rental returns being too low.

“With mortgage approvals for residential investment lettings down 20 per cent year on year [in 2023], it’s clear those leaving are not being replaced in the same numbers by new investors,” he said, noting that new taxation measures aimed at encouraging landlords to remain in the market are only being implemented this year.

The report examines the affordability of a new three-bed semidetached home for a first-time-buyer couple, using the example of a garda and a nurse with a combined gross income of €89,000.

It found that the northwest, midlands and southeast are the most affordable regions for this couple, while homes in the Greater Dublin Area and Galway are out of reach.

With the average market value of a new three-bedroom semidetached home in the Greater Dublin Area being €464,036, maximum loan limits mean the case-study couple hoping to buy a home in the area would fall short by about €62,000, also known as the affordability gap. The affordability gap in Galway is €22,000.

The report also highlights that just over a decade since building energy ratings were first introduced, 69 per cent of agents say they are now an important or very important factor in relation to the level of an offer made on a property.

Ellen O'Regan

Ellen O’Regan

Ellen O’Regan is an Irish Times journalist.