Residential property transactions fell sharply last year

Impact of Covid-19 meant buyers and sellers stalled, but house prices held firm

The number of residential property transactions declined sharply last year as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the Irish economy and society, but house prices nonetheless held firm across the State, according to a new report.

The latest GeoView Residential Buildings Report, published by GeoDirectory and EY-DKM on Monday, shows that in the 12 months to November a total of 35,542 residential property transactions took place across the State.

That represented a drop of 21.1 per cent compared with the previous year. A decline in purchasing activity was recorded in every county, with Dublin experiencing the sharpest drop in absolute terms, down 3,981 transactions year on year.

Of the transactions, only 18.9 per cent were classified as newly-built dwellings. This figure is 0.2 percentage points above the figure for the corresponding period to November 2019.


The average residential property price in the 12 months to November was €294,184, representing a decline of 0.7 per cent year on year. When Dublin is removed from the national average, the average residential property price was €231,549.

Unsurprisingly, the highest residential property prices were found in the capital, with an average price of €442,711. This was an increase of 0.8 per cent compared with the equivalent 2019 figure.

Wicklow (€381,441) and Kildare (€318,744) were the only other counties in which the average property price exceeded the national average.

The lowest average property prices were located in rural areas, with Longford (€122,989), Leitrim (€126,316) and Roscommon (€128,920) recording the lowest prices.

‘Healthy pipeline’

Despite significant disruption to the construction sector in 2020 due to Covid-19, there remains a “healthy pipeline” of construction activity, according to the report.

Some 16,735 residential buildings were under construction in Ireland in December, representing a 11.6 per cent increase on the same period in 2019.

Of those buildings under construction, the highest number were found in Dublin (2,737). However, this figure for the capital is down 34.1 per cent on December 2019 levels.

Almost six in 10 of all residential buildings under construction were located in Leinster, 5.9 per cent lower than the same period in 2019. In contrast, increases in residential construction were recorded in Connacht (2.3 per cent), Munster (1.8 per cent) and Ulster (1.8 per cent).

A total of 21,851 new residential address points were added to the GeoDirectory database in 2020, an increase of 7.3 per cent compared with December 2019.

More than half (51.8 per cent) of the new address points were located in the Greater Dublin Area of Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow, with just under a third (33.1 per cent) of the total located in the capital itself.

Leitrim (82), Longford (82) and Sligo (130) were the counties that recorded the fewest additions to the database.

The average vacancy rate in Ireland in December was 4.6 per cent, which was 0.2 per cent lower than the previous year. At 1.6 per cent, Dublin had the lowest vacancy rate in the country, but was also the only county to record an increase in its vacancy rate (0.4 per cent).

Kildare (2 per cent) and Wicklow (2.5 per cent) were the counties with the lowest vacancy rates outside of Dublin.

Continuing a trend from previous reports, the three counties with the highest vacancy rates were all located in Connacht.

Leitrim, at 14.5 per cent, had the highest residential vacancy rate in the country but, on a positive note, recorded a year-on-year decline of 0.8 per cent. After Leitrim, Roscommon (12.6 per cent) and Mayo (12.2 per cent) registered the next highest vacancy rates.

GeoDirectory chief executive Dara Keogh said the data showed how prospective buyers and sellers have held off on activity in 2020, resulting in significantly fewer transactions.

“However, a certain level of demand has remained, which meant that house prices held firm across the country,” he said.

“Despite a temporary restriction on construction activity in 2020, there was a high level of residential buildings under construction in December 2020. It remains to be seen what impact the current restrictions on construction activity will have on this pipeline of new builds in 2021.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter