Property prices hit by biggest annual fall

Property prices are continuing to plunge with the latest official figures showing they recorded their biggest annual fall in two years in January.

Results from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that residential property prices have fallen by 17.4% in the past 12 months compared to a reduction of 10.7% in the preceding year.

It is the largest annual decline in the property market since January 2010.

The CSO figures also show that house prices across Ireland fell by 1.9% on average last month.

They show the rate of decline in property prices is accelerating again as the decrease was 1.7% in December and just 1.1% in January of last year.

January’s slump is the third highest monthly fall in house prices since March 2009.

Bloxham chief economist Alan McQuaid said while the latest CSO figures were good news for people trying to get on the housing market ladder, the continuing fall in prices is bad for overall consumer confidence.

Mr McQuaid said that prices would continue to decline despite initiatives in Budget 2012 to boost the property market.

“We don’t see any significant improvement in the housing market until the employment situation gets better and bank lending returns to some sort of ‘normality’,” said Mr McQuaid.

He estimated that there was a risk that property prices could fall in excess of another 10% in 2012.

The results come just a day after a survey by Daft.ie highlighted how most potential buyers are likely to postpone buying property for until 2014 at the earliest in the belief that house prices will continue to fall.

The latest figures provide few signs the market has bottomed out and are likely to frustrate attempts by the Government to kick-start the sector after five years of declining house values.

The sharpest decline occurred in Dublin where prices fell by 4% last month which resulted in an annual drop of 21.1% in property prices in the capital.

House prices in Dublin are now 55% below their peak which was recorded in early 2007.

The fall in the price of residential properties in the rest of the country is somewhat lower at 43% but fell by 15.1% alone in the past 12 months. On a national basis, the average price of all houses and apartments in the Republic have dropped by 48% since their peak.

The latest CSO findings come as a separate British study warns Europe’s property markets are in the middle of “prolonged agony” with no obvious end to the fall in house prices in sight.

The European Housing Review by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed that the Irish housing market recorded the biggest fall in value of 23 European countries in each of the past two years.

Only Germany, France, Switzerland and Norway have seen property values increase by more than 5% during 2011.

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