Property prices still rise despite Central Bank lending rules
House prices are on the up again despite efforts by the Central Bank to stem rises by introducing mortgage lending restrictions.
New figures show prices up almost 1pc across the country in March. Prices are now almost 17pc higher when compared with a year ago.
In Dublin, prices rose by 1.1pc in March, according to the new data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Outside of Dublin, residential property prices rose by 0.7pc, with prices up almost 11pc compared with last year.
The rises nationally in March are in contrast to falling prices in January and February.
However, the figures only include transactions where a mortgage is drawn down. As many as half of the properties being transacted are for cash.
Economists predict prices will keep rising this year despite the efforts of regulators to dampen increases.
Just after the start of the year, the Central Bank ordered banks to ensure most first-time buyers had a deposit of 20pc for any amounts borrowed over €220,000.
And the amount that can be borrowed is restricted to three-and-a-half times gross income.
Juliet Tennent of Goodbody Stockbrokers said the weakness in prices in January and February was due to the lending limits, particularly in Dublin.
"We expect the market to strengthen over the coming months, as those with mortgage approvals granted ahead of the implementation of the rules rush to avail of them, before slowing as the new Central Bank rules are implemented."
The average property is selling for €206,000 nationally, calculations on the CSO figures by Goodbody show. This is up €30,000 in the past year.
In Dublin, the average price is now €277,000, up €52,000 in a year. Outside the capital, properties are trading at €166,000 on average, a rise of €16,000 in the past 12 months.
Merrion Stockbrokers economist Alan McQuaid said a lack of supply was pushing up prices.
He added that the improving economy will keep prices rising despite the Central Bank lending restrictions.
"Taking all factors into consideration, an increase of just under 12pc is now projected for 2015," Mr McQuaid said.
"It does now look as though the monthly declines in house prices in the first two months of 2015 were weather related, with the lack of supply the key driver of prices," he said.
"Although the tighter lending restrictions imposed by the Central Bank and the end of the capital gain tax property purchase incentive scheme may weigh negatively to some degree, it appears that house price growth may be stronger in 2015 than we previously envisaged," Mr McQuaid said.
Nationally, property prices are 38pc lower than their peak level in 2007, while Dublin prices are 39pc down on their peak.
Earlier this week, ratings agency Fitch said it expected property prices to keep going up this year despite the limits on deposit sizes and restrictions on the amount of income that can be used to calculate how much can be borrowed.
"This is likely to lower credit growth but should have a limited impact on home price recovery," Fitch said.
Estate agency Savills said the latest price rises were likely to be a result of "approvals hoarding".
John McCartney of Savills said this was where those with loan offers in place before the Central Bank's rules came in were buying ahead of their approvals expiring.
When the regulator's plans were first flagged, there was a stampede for loan approvals.
"It may be that demand from these motivated buyers is behind the rebound in price growth seen in these figures."