Households' worth jumps on back of property price rise
The surge in property prices has pushed up the net worth of households.
The debts of consumers here are also falling faster than elsewhere in the European Union.
New figures from the Central Bank show that the average household in this country now has a net worth of €137,000.
It has risen because of the strong gains in property values and because consumers' financial assets have increased in value.
Net worth is the value of assets minus debts.
The rise in net worth also reflects the fact that more people have escaped negative equity, while large numbers have now paid off their mortgage debt.
Overall, households' net worth rose by €7.2bn in the final quarter of last year.
It now stands at €654bn.
Statisticians in the Central Bank said the net worth per head works out at €137,286.
Rising house prices are a major reason for the increase, but a reduction in debt is also a factor.
The most recent figures show that property prices are increasing at a rate of 11pc a year due to a chronic shortage of homes to buy at a time of strong demand.
The net worth of households has now shot up by 51pc since hitting a low-point during the economic crash. This is largely due to the recovery in the property market.
Household debts have fallen by the same percentage.
Despite the increase, Irish net worth remains 9pc lower than at its peak in the second quarter of 2007.
The figures also show the debts of households are falling fast.
In cash terms, household debt is down 30pc from peak, to €144bn.
The Central Bank said household debt in this country as a proportion of disposable income has fallen faster than in any other European Union (EU) country.
But despite this we are still the fourth most indebted in the EU.
Debts of household now represent 140pc of disposable income, down from 194pc in 2012.
Households continued to be a net lender in the last three months of 2016.
This is because they invested in financial assets and are paying down financial liabilities.
Investment in financial assets increased to €1.7bn in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Investment in currency and deposits fell by €100m, the Central Bank said.
And Government debt has come down by €4.8bn to €240.3bn in the fourth quarter of last year.
That decrease is a result of net redemptions of debt securities and a decrease in the value of outstanding debt securities according to the Central Bank.
The figures show that the financial wealth of the State pushed up slightly by €1.5bn.
This is said to be on the back of a reduction in total State financial liabilities which offset a fall in Government financial assets.
A decrease in holdings of deposits was the main driver of the fall in Government assets.