Westmeath house prices drop by half

House prices in Westmeath have plummeted by a massive 50 per cent since they hit their peak in early 2007, according to the latest report from property website Daft.ie

The average asking price for a house in Westmeath now stands at €147,353, some 50.9 per cent lower than asking prices in the county in 2007.

House prices fell by 15.5 per cent in Westmeath over the past year, and by 4.2 per cent in the last quarter alone, the Daft House Price Report for 2011 revealed.

Neighbouring counties have experienced similar drops, with house prices in Offaly falling 53 per cent since peak, and Roscommon 48 per cent. The most dramatic drop in the country was in Longford, where house prices are now 57 per cent below peak.

In Westmeath a one-bedroom house will now set you back an average of €74,000, a two-bed €108,000, three-bed €113,000, and four-bed €186,000, while five-bed houses across the county are now selling for an average of €271,000.

Commenting on the figures, economist with Daft.ie, Ronan Lyons, said there was a particularly dramatic fall in asking prices in the final three months of 2011.

“Until the third quarter of this year, the case could be made that house price falls had been slowing down. However, in the final three months of 2011, the average asking price fell by almost 8 per cent, by far the largest quarterly fall yet. It means that the fall in asking prices over the course of 2011 was 18 per cent, as large as any of the falls seen in 2008, 2009, or 2010,” said Mr Lyons.

However, he says this is not necessarily a negative development.

“It is somewhat ingrained in Irish commentary to see larger falls as a bad thing and no doubt many, particularly those in negative equity, will see this dramatic fall in those terms. However, if you think of the fall in house prices as a necessary correction, whose size is determined by fundamental factors, then it is better for the prices to race to the finishing line than to crawl there.”

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