House prices fall as sales increase

A two-tier market is opening up in Ireland despite activity up in almost all counties in 2013, reports Seán McCárthaigh.

OVERALL activity in the residential property market increased in all 26 counties, excluding Laois, last year, with the volume of sales showing strong growth in most regions.

However, average house prices values continue to fall almost everywhere with the exception of Dublin and Kildare.

A detailed analysis by the Irish Examiner of all transactions recorded in the Residential Property Price Register in 2013 shows almost 27,800 full-price houses and apartments were sold last year — an increase of 18% on 2012.

The total value of all residential property sales last year rose by 24% nationally to more than €5.9bn driven largely by a resurgent market in Dublin and its commuter belt.

The analysis provides further evidence of the existence of a two-tier housing market in the Republic with sharp differences between rising prices in the capital and falling values in almost every other region.

Average house prices fell in 24 counties during 2013, continuing a trend since the economic downturn began in 2008.

Nationally, average house prices fell by 7% nationally — down by almost €10,500 to €147, 550.

If property sales in Dublin are excluded, average house prices across the State decreased by 9% — down €12,000 to €118,000.

In contrast, average house prices in Dublin jumped by 9%, with increases also recorded in Kildare of 3%, a trend largely attributed to the effect of a shortage of supply of family homes.

The results also showed signs of greater activity in the construction sector during 2013 with almost 3,400 new houses and apartments sold last year — an annual increase of 17%.

However, the overall value of new homes sold in 2013 only rose by 3% to €631.5m, a further sign that house prices in general are continuing to fall.

There was also a resurgence in sales of secondhand properties last year — up 19% to almost 24,300 transactions.

The total value of the secondhand property market soared by 27% last year to €5.3bn, again largely due to the strength of the Dublin housing market.

Nevertheless, average house prices fell by 5% nationally and by 8% when the effect of the Dublin property market is removed.

The median price of a secondhand property nationally was €147,000 in 2013 — down €8,000 on the previous year.

Excluding Dublin, the average price dropped to just under €119,000 compared to €129,000 in 2012.

CARLOW

Recorded a 72% growth in the value of new properties sold in 2013 — the highest rate of any county — up more than €4.2m to €10.1m.

Overall there was a notable pick-up in property sales in Carlow with the number of homes bought and sold up 35% to 333 and their value up 43% to €41.5m.

The 5% decline in median value of all property sales to €100,000 was one of the smallest reductions in any area.

CAVAN

The biggest revival in the property market of any county with sales volumes up 56% to 484 homes. Falling prices meant such sales only translated into a 20% increase by value — up just under €7m to €41m. The median price of properties sold in Cavan last year was the third lowest in the Republic at €65,415. It represented a massive 28% decrease — down from €91,400 in 2012.

CLARE

The number of property sales rose by a modest 9% in 2013.

However, Clare was one of only a handful of counties to witness an overall decline in the value of sales in a busier market. They fell by 3% last year.

There was low activity in new construction with just 47 new homes sold in 2013 — the third lowest number in the Republic.

CORK

Worth more than €553m in 2013, the county is the second biggest property market after Dublin accounting for 10.6% of the national market.

The average price of a house last year was €148,000 — fourth highest behind Dublin, Kildare, and Wicklow.

The 15% increase in the volume of sales was marginally below the national average.

DONEGAL

Another of only a few counties to record single-digit growth in activity levels in 2013 with the number of property sales up by only 8%. The slow growth rate translated into a 4% fall in the value of such transactions — down almost 2m to 73.1. The fall in median values of house prices in Donegal of 16% to 83,000 was more than double the national average rate.

DUBLIN

The country’s biggest property market accounting for more than a third of all sales in 2013. With sales totalling €3.25m, it represented almost 55% of national sales last year, clear evidence of how more expensive property in Dublin is compared to every other county.

The median price of houses and apartments sold in Dublin last year was €235,000 — up 9% over the previous 12 months — the highest increase recorded in any county.

GALWAY

The county recorded an impressive 33% increase in the number of properties bought and sold during 2013 with the resultant value of sales rising by 26% to almost €239m. However, average house prices in Galway continue to falter despite such activity — down 11% to €135,000

KERRY

The housing market in the Kingdom remained relatively sluggish with the overall value of sales growing by just 3% compared to the national average of 24%. The median value of property sold in Kerry in 2013 dropped more than twice as fast as the national average, down 16% or €22,500 to €117,500.

KILDARE

The fourth biggest county in terms of sales volume but third in terms of value — swapping places with Galway. Kildare was the only county in addition to Dublin where average house prices rose last year. The median price of properties was €180,000 — up 3%. The county also saw a strong demand for new homes, where sales rose 72% and average prices were second highest in Ireland at just over €186,000.

KILKENNY

Only very modest growth in overall sales — just 1% — which was the second lowest level of growth of any county in 2013. This also translated into a 2% fall in the value of such transactions. The stagnant property market in Kilkenny was largely due to a 26% decrease in new houses sold — the third highest reduction experienced by any county.

On a more positive note, the fall in median house prices remained on par with the national picture.

LAOIS

The only county whose property market was less active during 2013 than the previous year with transactions down 3%. However, the value of such sales at €39.8m represented a 2% increase on 2012 figures.

The number of new homes sold in Laois fell by 45% last year as construction activity noticeably declined.

LEITRIM

Still third overall, recording a 53% rise in house sales in 2013, the second highest increase in the country. A 61% increase in the number of secondhand properties sold was the highest growth rate of any county. Experienced the third biggest reduction in average house prices in 2013 — down 22% to just under €66,000.

LIMERICK

A 10% increase in house sales last year resulted in a more modest rise of 2% in the value of such transactions. The 14% drop in median house prices in Limerick — down from €140,000 in 2012 to €120,650 last year — represented a fall that is twice the national average.

The 8% increase in sales of secondhand homes in Limerick was one of the lowest growth rates recorded anywhere in Ireland last year in the secondhand property market.

LONGFORD

Replaces Monaghan as the smallest market despite a 16% increase in the number of transactions. The total value of property sales was just under €16m. The cheapest homes in the country are found in Longford, where the median price of homes last year was €60,000.

Just 30 new homes and apartments were sold — the lowest figure of any county — representing a 35% drop in building activity compared to 2012.

The median price of new homes in Longford at €59,510 was also the lowest anywhere in Ireland.

LOUTH

Strong pick-up in activity with sales up 24%, especially in the market for secondhand homes, although average prices continued to fall. The market for new homes remained relatively stable. However, the average price of new homes sold in Louth last year fell by 29% to €124,850.

MAYO

Despite relatively sluggish activity in the market — with just a 5% increase in property sales in 2013 — the third lowest growth rate in the country.

Mayo also experienced a sharper reduction in average house prices than many other counties — down 12% to €95,000. It was also one of only eight counties where the market for new homes recorded a fall, which contributed to a 36% reduction in the value of new properties sold in Mayo last year.

MEATH

The only county where the median price of new properties recorded an increase in 2013 — up 9% to €185,125 — which is probably due to its location in the Dublin commuter belt and a shortage of new homes in the capital.

Overall Meath saw 24% growth in all property sales with the value of such deals also up 20% to €171.2m. Such positive signs still couldn’t prevent median house prices falling 5% to €145,000.

MONAGHAN

A strong increase in activity level with sales up 47%, albeit from a very low base, saw the county being replaced by Longford as Ireland’s smallest property market.

Monaghan witnessed the second biggest drop in house prices last year — down by 23% on average falling from €100,000 in 2012 to €77,500 in 2013.

It also recorded a big surge in new housing with sales of new homes and apartments more than doubling — the highest rate of increase in any county.

Monaghan was the smallest market for sales of secondhand properties last year with just 157 full-price transactions.

OFFALY

The second lowest number of new housing sales in 2013 with just 37 new properties sold in Offaly — even though it represented a 16% increase on 2012 figures.

The average price of new properties sold in Offaly last year was the joint second lowest (with Tipperary) at just €68,100. The overall increase in property sales in Offaly were just half the national average at 9%. However, they still translated into a 8% fall in the value of the market — down almost €3m to €32.2m.

ROSCOMMON

Location of the second cheapest housing market in Ireland after Longford. The median price of homes in Roscommon in 2013 was €65,000 as average property values tumbled by 18% over the past 12 months.

There was a big increase recorded in sales of new homes — up 81% — the second highest rise in new housing activity in the country last year. It contributed to a 43% increase in overall sales.

SLIGO

Outside Dublin and its commuter belt, average house prices in Sligo suffered the smallest decrease — down just 2% to €92,150. However, the property market generally in Sligo recorded below-average growth rates in 2013. An 8% rise in the number of secondhand properties being exchanged last year was one of the smallest anywhere in Ireland.

TIPPERARY

A strong increase in overall sales activity wasn’t matched with a similar rate of growth in the value of such transactions. The general 13% fall in median house prices to €91,000 was almost double the national average.

The market for new homes given Tipperary’s size is quite small with just 49 sold in 2013. The average price of such homes was also the joint second lowest (with Offaly) at just €68,100. It represented a 58% decline on the median value of new homes sold in the county in 2012 — the largest price fall anywhere.

WATERFORD

Like adjoining Tipperary, a pick-up in the county’s property market with above-average growth in the number of house sales in 2013 did not translate into an increase in average property prices. A relatively strong performance by the market for new homes could not stop overall median prices falling 10% to €97,500.

WESTMEATH

A strong resurgence in the secondhand property market in Westmeath saw above-average increases in both the number and value of houses sold during 2013. Despite such a good performance, the average price of such homes in the county fell by 13% to €87,000. A weak market for new homes failed to improve the picture.

WEXFORD

One of the traditionally busiest property markets outside the major urban centres, Wexford recorded mixed results in 2013. Overall sales levels were up 10% to stay ahead of other large markets like Meath and Wicklow.

However, the value of such sales was stagnant with no increase at €115.4m, while median house prices fell by 13% to €100,000.

WICKLOW

The county has the second highest average house prices in the Republic (after Dublin) at €197,500 last year.

Although they fell by 1%, it was one of the lowest declines of any county indicating the underlying strength of the property market in Wicklow. The median price of new properties sold in Wicklow surpassed similar prices in Dublin to be the most expensive at €210,000.

The methodology

The analysis of property prices by the Irish Examiner is based on the Residential Property Price Register compiled by the Property Services Regulatory Authority.

It contains details on the sale of all residential properties in the Republic during 2013 which were recorded on the register by February 24, 2014.

The register provides information on the date of sale, price, and address of all properties purchased over the period as declared to the Revenue Commissioners for stamp duty purposes.

The price of more than 1,500 property sales or 5.3% of the total were not included as they were transactions where the full market price was not paid.

The value of new homes recorded in the register has been increased by 13.5% to take into account the VAT element in order to reflect the true cost paid by the buyers of such property.

The Irish Examiner also uses the median price rather than the mean (average) price as a more accurate figure of general house price levels as it eliminates the distorting effect of particularly high or low prices.

The median is the middle value in a set of prices and indicates that 50% of house prices are both above and below that figure.

The PSRA website states it is important to note that the register is not intended as a property price index.

The register does not contain information on details of sold properties such as type, size or number of bedrooms which would allow for true like-for-like comparisons.

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