REA Q4 Average House Price Survey
26th December 2016
The price of an average house in Dublin rose by 4.2% in the final quarter of the year as first-time buyers returned to viewings in the capital.
The average three-bed semi-detached in Dublin city now costs €389,167, a rise of €15,834 (4.2%) in the last three months and an increase of 8.9% over the past year, the Q4 REA Average House Price Index has found.
The announcement of the upcoming easing of the Central Bank lending restrictions on first-time buyers has had an immediate effect in Dublin, with hopeful buyers suddenly back in evidence at house viewings.
And the survey found it took just five weeks to sell the average house in Dublin City in Q4, a drop of two weeks from Q3.
The REA Average House Price Survey concentrates on the sale price of Ireland's typical stock home, the three-bed semi, giving an up-to-date picture of the property market in towns and cities countrywide to the end of the selling season in December.
There were substantial rises in both South County Dublin (€406,667 up 2.5%) and North County Dublin (€267,500 up 2.9%) as the capital’s property market, which had been falling this time last year, finished with an 8.1% overall annual increase.
However, while the easing of the restriction on first-time buyers deposits has had an impact in the capital, the commuter market experienced a rise of just 1% in Q4 with prices static in commuter towns such as Ashbourne, Blessington, Naas, Maynooth and Celbridge.
And the major cities such as Cork, Limerick and Galway followed much the same pattern in Q4, returning an increase of 1.1% over the last three months, with prices static in Cork City at €295,000 – a rise of just €10,000 (3.5%) on the December 2015 figure.
The average semi-detached house nationally now costs €202,926, the Q4 REA Average House Price Survey has found – a rise of 1.4% on the Q3 figure of €200,148.
The biggest percentage increases over the past year came in the country’s smaller rural towns situated outside of Dublin, the commuter belt and the major cities.
Prices here rose by an average of 12.3% over the year, with a three-bed semi now costing €134,290 – an increase of 2.4% in the past three months.
While the easing of the Central Bank deposit restrictions has had a positive effect on the market, the lack of suitable supply is the biggest influence nationwide, according to REA Chairman Eamonn Spratt.
“In many lower-priced towns, a previous oversupply has now worked its way out of the market, and buyers are realising that there will be no new developments as it is still uneconomical for builders to start new-builds,” said Mr Spratt.
“For that reason Longford, which is the most affordable county in the country, has seen its three-bed semi price rise by a massive 41.8% over the past 12 months – going from €55,000 last December to its present price of €78,000.
“Similarly, investors in property in Roscommon would have seen their values rise by 28.6% over the past year, with agents reporting that Q4 rises of 8% in Roscommon town are fuelled by buyers realising that there will be no further building in the area in the short term.”
After seeing the biggest growth in the country over the past few years, counties in the commuter belt have seen their progress slow or stagnate over the past three months with Meath (1%), Kildare (0%) and Wicklow (0.8%) all starkly contrasting with the growth in the Dublin market.
“Our agents are reporting that the income multiplier restrictions are having the greatest effect in commuter counties, and couples earning €60,000, for example, cannot now afford to purchase suitable homes due to lack of supply,” said Eamonn Spratt.
“There is a cap with the multiplier of 3.5 times income beyond which many couples cannot go, and while there is plenty of activity, in some commuter towns prices are probably as high as they can go under the current regulations.
“However, some of those same commuter towns nearer Dublin are beginning to see new builds commencing which shows that developers are confident that if they build units, they will sell above the profitability cut-off floor of around €200,000.”
The average time taken to buy a house dropped from six to five weeks in Q4, with both Dublin city and county and the country’s large regional towns experiencing shorter sale times.
There was also an increase of mortgage-financed buyers nationwide with cash buyers making up just 32% of sales around the country – down from 40% at the end of 2015.
In Dublin, just 25% of sales are now to cash buyers, while the figure in the commuter counties is lower again at 21%.
Barry McDonald of REA McDonald in Lucan thinks it will be the New Year before we see the full impact of the lifting of the Central Bank restrictions and the Government’s Help To Buy scheme.
“First-time buyers are definitely the main cohort out in the market in Dublin – most obviously in the €250,000 to €300,000 price bracket which is moving very well,” he said.
“However, as you move up the price range to the €400,000-plus market, buyers are thinner on the ground.
“This is a side-effect of the continued 20% deposit restrictions placed upon second-time buyers, who cannot afford to trade up in the market, thus freeing up suitable starter homes.
“We are also seeing vendors thinking that they may do better in the new year and holding off before coming to market.
‘The market is very definitely being driven by supply and not demand. The typical scenario now is that there are between one and three bidders for a property rather than five or more and buyers are finding that if they miss out, there is not necessarily an equivalent property out there.”