Calls to renew Help-to-Buy scheme

Renewing the Help-to-Buy scheme is "vital" to ensuring future growth in the housing market in Cork, according to estate agents Lisney.

Calls to renew Help-to-Buy scheme

Renewing the Help-to-Buy scheme is "vital" to ensuring future growth in the housing market in Cork, according to estate agents Lisney.

In its latest quarterly report on the state of the residential market, Lisney warned that the potential fallout of a no-deal Brexit and the Central Bank lending limits are keeping a lid on the market.

It reported that prices in Cork are up 6.1% in the year ending Quarter 2, 2019. In comparison, prices in Dublin grew by 0.6% in the same period.

The market in the capital is experiencing a "mild cooling", according to Lisney, with prices actually declining in the Dublin City Council and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown areas. That is offset by South Dublin County Council administrative area where prices increased by 4%.

In the year ending June 2019, there were 3,200 properties for sale in Cork, a 4.4% decline in comparison to June 2018. In contrast, in Dublin, there was a 5.5% increase in the number of homes available for sale.

The majority of sales remain the result of people trading up or down, though first-time buyers are a prominent element of the market.

Of the sales in Cork in the three months ending May 2019, 29% were first-time buyers.

Some 52% of sales were purchasers trading up or down and the remaining 19% were snapped up by investors looking to rent out properties.

In Dublin, in the same period, the picture is much the same. Investors accounted for 16% of sales, with first-time buyers accounting for 34%. The remaining 50% were people trading up or down.

In Dublin, 3,140 units were sold in the three months ending May 2019, a 17.9% decrease on the same period last year. There were 7,204 new properties completed in Dublin in the 12 months to the end of Q1, 2019. Of these, 74% were houses, with 1,869 apartments.

In Cork, the lack of apartments remains an issue, accounting for just 10% of the 1,838 new units completed in the 12 months ending Q1 2019. A total of 1,200 units were sold in the three months ending May, a 6.7% decrease from the same period last year.

In its report, Lisney said renewing the help-to-buy scheme is essential to keeping new buyers in the market.

The majority of sales in Cork are in the sub-€300,000 market. In fact, 78% of sales in Cork in Q2, 2019 fit into this category, though they note that the upper end of the market is remaining steady.

New home sales are "performing well", accounting for 15% of sales in Cork. For first-time buyers, new homes account for 25% of the total market.

There are currently 41 new home schemes on the market, with planning permission for 2,640 units in total. Removing help-to-buy from new entrants to the market would limit access to many of these new developments, Lisney notes in the report.

"The new homes market continues to be stimulated by the Help-to-Buy scheme for first-time buyers. Signalling the continuation of this scheme is vital for the new homes market as we near the end of the year."

Large-scale developments are in the pipeline to meet the "overwhelming demand in the rental market", the report notes, with a forthcoming proposal for a 25-storey apartment tower on Albert Quay among the largest developments.

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