There are plenty of positive signs around the property market right now. Prices, in most cases, have stopped falling and are actually rising. The price rises appear to be mainly in Dublin and other cities like Galway and Cork.
More houses are changing hands as transactions occur. This is because in most places, prices have bottomed out, confidence is growing and there is pent-up demand in parts of the country.
But we have to ask ourselves, what do we want from the property market? I think the best thing that could happen in 2014 is that more mortgages are given out, more transactions take place and prices remain stable, with perhaps modest growth. Will we get that?
Banks are finally getting ready to do deals on mortgage arrears. Every deal done, potentially frees up a property that could be sold, whether it is through repossession or loan write-down. That should bring more properties to the market, which should alleviate the massive price increases in Dublin.
Parts of the country with stubbornly high unemployment will continue to see property prices struggle, but they should rumble along at current levels. Prices no longer falling and more transactions taking place, is itself a positive development.
Greater house repossessions and mortgage arrears deals will bring more houses on the market in places like Dublin, which should stem the massive and unhealthy 15 per cent per annum house price growth. Dublin prices will continue to grow, but at a slower rate as more transactions take place.
The property market remains vulnerable to a major external economic shock, such as in the bond market or with the single currency. Excluding a major shock, we will see house prices in major cities rise this year, but probably by less than last year, while small towns and villages will see more modest to zero growth.