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Residential property prices in Ireland fell by 0.4% in February, the second monthly decline in a row, the latest index data shows. The fall last month comes on the back of a 1.4% decline in January amid concerns that the country’s real estate recovery could be stalling. In Dublin, the decline was more pronounced, with average prices falling by 0.7%, according to the data from the Central Statistics Office. However, despite this fall, residential property prices remained up 14.9% on an annual basis. In Dublin property prices were still 21.4% higher than in February 2014. A breakdown of the figures shows that Dublin house prices fell by 1% in February whilst Dublin apartment prices increased by 2%. However, a spokesman said that it should be noted that the sub-indices for apartments are based on low volumes of observed transactions and consequently suffer from greater volatility than other series. In the rest of Ireland residential property prices were unchanged in February. However, prices were still up 8.2% compared with February 2014. At national level residential property prices were 38.7% lower than their peak level in 2007. Dublin house prices were 37.6% lower than their peak, Dublin apartment prices were 43.3% lower than their peak and Dublin residential property prices overall were 39.3% lower than their highest level. Outside of Dublin residential property prices were 41.9% lower than their highest level in 2007. ‘With prices continuing to rise more quickly than earnings affordability constraints are beginning to have an impact. This has removed some of the heat that was evident in the market in the middle of last year,’ said John McCartney of Savills. ‘Agents are now reporting that buyers are no longer in a frenzy to buy for fear that prices will run beyond their means. This is a very positive development as expectations of rapid price growth can become self-fulfilling and can quickly lead to overheating,’ he added. It is a welcome slowdown in Irish house price inflation rather than a collapse in prices, according to Conall MacCoille, chief economist at Davy Stockbrokers, who said at over five times average incomes, house prices no longer look cheap. ‘This slowdown is not surprising or undesirable. Ideally, Irish house prices will now rise in line with nominal wages so affordability is not stretched further,’ he explained, adding that it was too early to say what kind of dampening effect new central bank restrictions on mortgage lending will have. The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), an independent think-tank partly funded by the Irish government, said that while the measures may slow down house price growth, this could come at the expense of rising rents and fewer houses being supplied amid major shortages of supply in Dublin. Continue reading →
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