COVID-19 crisis brings local property market to a halt

While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the number of homes listed for sale dropping dramatically, property prices in Westmeath were two per cent higher during the first quarter of the calendar year when compared with the same time period in 2019.

The average house price is now €208,000, 76 per cent above its lowest point. There were just under 1,300 properties posted for sale nationwide between March 15 and March 28 this year, half the total for the same two-week period a year earlier.

The report also outlines trends in list prices for housing over the January-March period. With Covid-19 not affecting day-to-day life until the final two weeks of March, there was little sign of any price effect. Nationwide, housing prices rose by 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2020 to reach an average of €256,338. However, having fallen in both the third and fourth quarters of 2019, the average price nationally in the first quarter of 2020 was 1.7 percent lower than the same time a year ago.

The number of properties available to buy on the market nationwide was just under 19,900 in March, down almost twelve percent year-on-year and the first time since late 2006 that fewer than 20,000 homes have been on the market. Following nearly a year and a half of improving availability, this marks the seventh consecutive month where stock on the market has fallen. The fall in availability is seen in all parts of the country, but is most pronounced in Dublin, where availability has fallen over twenty percent in a year.

“Just three months ago, I wrote of there being a relatively good balance in sales segment, for the first time in a long time, even if the rental and social housing sectors remained broken. The last few weeks have changed the prospects for the Irish housing market entirely, with the COVID-19 pandemic reaching Ireland and completely disrupting everyday life for weeks and possibly months to come. There is, as of now, very little evidence of this affecting prices of property for sale but that is unsurprising. In such uncertain times, the first reaction will be through quantities, not prices, with both buyers and sellers holding off until the future becomes a little clearer.

“The number of properties listed for sale in the final two weeks of March 2020 was 1,299, barely half the total seen in the same two weeks of 2019. This is likely to continue as long as everyday life is suspended in Ireland, with consequences for the number of transactions that will take place in the second half of the year. The scale of the fall in prices is still unclear at this point. Ultimately, the effect on the property market will depend on a number of factors, including the extent of disruption, the speed of recovery and the impact on numbers employed, average incomes and whether Ireland’s business model – acting as a base for North American firms to access the European market – is in any way affected in the long run,” Ronan Lyons, economist at Trinity College Dublin and author of the report, commented.

“During this period many property hunters has told us about their concerns around attending viewings in this new social distancing world. We suggest avoiding any unnecessary viewings by asking the estate agent plenty of questions by email or phone. We are working with estate agents and enabling them to upload videos and virtual tours on to our site. Many are already arranging virtual viewings so check the ad description on Daft.ie to see if this is available. We will continue to work on solutions so that our users can find new homes easily and safely,” Raychel O’Connell, communications manager at Daft.ie, added.

 

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