New home buyers are “voting with their feet,” with both sales activity and prices holding up well, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the head of Sherry FitzGerald’s New Homes division in Cork.
Welcoming the new Programme for Government’s commitment to housing supply issues, including social and affordable homes, estate agent Paul Hannon said it could mark a turning point in the country’s housing crisis, and revealed the Cork offices of Sherry FitzGerald had had over 50 sales of new homes since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown period in March.
In the week in which the CSO revealed that house prices had risen nationally by just 0.5% over the 12-month period to April, with a slowdown in price growth evident (and especially in Dublin where they dipped over the past year,) Mr Hannon said their evidence was “despite the trepidation at the start of the pandemic, there seems to be little evidence of any slowdown in sales activity, and prices are holding firm”.
The CSO property price report published on Wednesday indicates the coronavirus pandemic had little impact on pricing in April, but the number of houses sold dropped by over a third in comparison to the previous month.
Just 2,351 household dwelling purchases were filed with Revenue in the month of April, a 35% decline when compared to March.
The total value of transactions filed in April was €659m; significantly lower than the €1bn total values reported in January and March.
However, on a month-to-month basis, prices have shown minimal difference so far. Prices were up 0.5% in April in comparison to the same month a year previous, and they fell by 0.2% from March to April of this year.
The report shows that the median price paid for a home was €260,000.
As lockdown restrictions lifted after June 8, and auctioneers recommenced physical viewings of properties. "Our agents are busy facilitating a large number of private viewings arising from the high level of enquiries received over the past number of weeks.
"These viewings are resulting in new sales as buyers are aware of the shortage of well designed, good quality and energy-efficient homes," Mr Hannon said.
He added that nearly 30% of their sales agreed last week were for new homes.
As the country inches forward to a new Government with housing issues high up on the agenda post-election, the Sherry FitzGerald director said “the draft programme for Government does, in my view, begin to address some of these challenges.
“For the last 15 years, housing in its many guises has been a significant problem, perhaps now setting a wider societal context, including increased access and a more integrated environment and transport approach will prove to be a turning point," he stated.
“The announcement also this week that the Help To Buy scheme for new homes and self-build homes is to be retained and expanded should be welcomed," he added.