Property price index records first rise in five years


RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY prices across the country fell by 15.3 per cent in the year to the end of May but also recorded their first monthly rise in nearly five years.

Overall, prices were up 0.2 per cent in the month, compared with a decline of 1.1 per cent in April and a drop of 1.2 per cent in May last year.

In Dublin, overall prices rose by 0.2 per cent in the month but were 17.5 per cent lower than a year ago.

The latest residential property price index published by the Central Statistics Office shows house prices in the capital were up by 0.5 per cent in May but were down 17.7 per cent compared with a year earlier. Apartment prices in Dublin fell by 1.6 per cent in May and were 16.3 per cent lower than a year earlier.

In the rest of the country, prices were up by 0.1 per cent in May compared with a decline of 2.1 per cent in May 2011. Overall, prices outside Dublin were 14.2 per cent lower than in the same month last year.

The CSO said house prices in Dublin were now 55 per cent lower than at their highest point in early 2007. Apartment prices in the capital are 61 per cent lower than they were in February of that year.

Residential property prices in Dublin are some 57 per cent lower than at their highest level at that time. In the rest of Ireland, the fall in residential property prices is 47 per cent.

The national index is some 50 per cent lower than at its height in 2007, the CSO said.

Davy stockbrokers said the index understated the true peak-to-trough decline in house prices and that it was “already close to 60 per cent”.

Davy noted the CSO index excluded cash purchases, which made up “at least 25 per cent of the market” and which were likely to be sold at “particularly distressed levels”.

It said a lack of transaction data had also probably “pushed up” on the CSO index.

“The lack of transactions may be evident in the split the CSO provides for properties in Dublin and the rest of the country,” the stockbroker said in a briefing note.

It said a period “below long-term equilibrium levels” now appeared likely.

“Credit constraints and the uncertain outlook for employment and economic growth are the principal factors that will hold back any recovery in the Irish housing market.”

Merrion Economics noted the 0.2 per cent increase in prices in May was the first overall monthly increase since September 2007, which it said was “an encouraging sign”.

Glas Securities said the May figures represented the slowest rate of decline since October last year. It said the figures would “provide encouragement that the time of steep falls in property prices may have given way to less dramatic price movements and even some price stabilisation in the market, particularly in the Dublin region”.

“However, the longer-term outlook for property prices remains uncertain in the context of wider economic issues and depressed mortgage lending.”

The CSO property index is compiled using data on mortgage drawdowns provided monthly by eight of the main mortgage lenders.