New database for property prices


Details of all property sales prices are to be published for the first time under legislation announced today.

A new database will be used to monitor market trends and house prices.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern today said statutory responsibility for publishing property sales prices will be given to the Property Services Regulatory Authority, which will be put on a statutory footing.

Mr Ahern said he would table amendments to the Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009 - which will establish the authority on a statutory basis - during the next Dáil session.

He said he would also bring forward “any necessary amendments” to the Data Protection Acts to facilitate the publication of sale price data by the authority.

The Minister said his proposals would give effect to a commitment in the renewed Programme for Government to facilitate publication of property price data “in order to improve market transparency and early detection of market trends”.

“I am very aware of the need for reliable and up to date data on house prices and other property,” the Minister said.

“The Property Services Regulatory Authority will be in a position to ensure timely publication of this data as soon as the legislation is enacted later this year.”

Mr Ahern said that in accordance with the Programme for Government, the Department of the Environment would maintain a house price database in which the details of residential and commercial property sales would be maintained for statistical purposes.

The Society of Chartered Surveyors (SCS) said it had long called for such a property price database and for reform of the Data Protection Act, to create "much-needed transparency in the property market".

It welcomed the fact that the database will cover both residential and commercial property, but voiced concern that the database will not cover "the whole spectrum of the commercial property market".

SCS president Peter Stapleton said the society, as the largest association for property professionals in Ireland, was looking forward to working closely with the relevant government departments on this initiative.

"For this register to be fully effective it is vital that the legislation includes the commercial market in full and this needs to be clarified. This is because the commercial sector’s need of a register is even greater than that of the residential market," Mr Stapleton said.

He said he hoped the new authority would be adequately resourced.and that its members would have a key role to play in the database's overseeing body.

The regional owner of property franchise Remax Ireland welcomed Mr Ahern's announcement.

Waterford-based auctioneer John Fogarty, who took over Remax in June, said the legislation was "long overdue".

“Up to now vendors had false expectations as they were basing everything on guide prices” he said. “On the other hand, purchasers were assuming that any asking price should be 20 per cent less.”

Mr Fogarty said the new law will bring welcome transparency to the property market.

He said the current situation makes no sense and makes it difficult for vendors, purchasers and agents to operate. With the new legislation everybody will have the correct facts and will not be operating on rumours, he said.

Fine Gael spokesman on housing, Terence Flanagan, said the plan "could bring welcome transparency to the property market but must not simply duplicate existing data".

“The new database is welcome if it brings certainty and transparency to the property market. However, Ireland does not need another quango duplicating data that is already out there. A lot of damage has been done to the property market over the years."

Mr Flanagan said it was not the first time the Minister had promised to bring in the necessary legislation to put the Property Services Regulatory Authority on a statutory footing.

"In fact, this quango was set up four years ago and has cost the taxpayer €3 million but is still not on a statutory footing.”

When the initiative was first announced last year, the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers said it would give transparency to the market.

“Everybody would know the correct facts not rumours. The current situation makes no sense and makes it difficult for buyers, sellers and agents to operate," chief executive Fintan McNamara said.