CASH buyers are flocking to the property market because they believe prices won't drop any further.
Almost half of all house and apartment sales so far this year were cash deals where buyers did not have to rely on bank borrowings, the Irish Independent can reveal.
It means a staggering €2.1bn was taken from personal savings to buy houses this year.
Experts said this signals wealthy buyers believe that prices can't fall any further.
And in a further boost to the property market, two lenders plan to resume offering mortgages from early next year.
Both EBS and Permanent TSB will re-enter the market, with loans of up to 92pc of the property value expected to be offered to those trying to get on the ladder.
But they will come into a market that has seen a sharp increase in cash sales in just three years.
An analysis of sales shows that despite the depressed market, there are still buyers out there if the price is right.
In 2010, about 12pc of all sales were in cash, which has risen to almost 50pc so far this year – a four-fold increase.
Experts said many were ex-pats planning to move home in the coming years, people with savings, and those who sold their home during the boom and have rented ever since, head of research at Lisney's, Aoife Brennan, said.
"Cash is king, and there's more people looking at Ireland," she said.
"In 2010, just 12pc of all sales were made in cash. That was a time when things were bleak in the economy and property market, and people thought values might fall a little further. When you're spending your own cash you look for more value."
So far this year, some 19,500 units have been sold across the State, an analysis of data in the Property Price Register ( PPR) reveals.
It details all sales of residential property across the State since 2010, and provides the price, address and date of sale. It includes details for cash and sales involving mortgages.
It shows that some €3.7bn has been spent on bricks and mortar so far this year.
But data from the Irish Banking Federation shows that just €1.6bn has been drawn down in mortgages over the same period – meaning more than half of all purchases were made in cash.
The Irish Independent findings, which come following an analysis of almost 20,000 individual sales, comes as auctioneers report that the market is beginning to stabilise, particularly in the cities.
In prime areas of Dublin, up to 65pc of all sales are in cash.
• Some 19,256 houses and apartments were sold between January and November; 9,418 (49pc) were cash sales.
• The total value of all sales was €3.7bn. In the same period, some €1.6bn was drawn down in mortgages.
• The average price paid was €193,315.
• But there are huge variations between the regions – in Dublin, the average house price is €294,274. This compares with €87,566 in Roscommon.
• Longford has the slowest property market, with just 146 homes sold this year. This compares with 7,086 in the capital.
• Some 147 homes were sold for more than €1m in Dublin. One in three sold in Limerick cost €100,000 or less.
The scale of mortgage lending and property sales are in stark contrast to 2006, when 204,000 mortgages valued at €39.8bn were drawn down.
The PPR also shows that sales of property have remained relatively stable since 2010, but that prices have continued to drop – down as much as 50pc from the height of the boom.
In 2010, almost 21,000 properties were sold, valued at €5.2bn. This fell to 18,000 properties in 2011, valued at €3.9bn, and to 19,500 sales this year, valued at €3.7bn.
Estate agent Ken MacDonald, from Hooke & MacDonald, said prices had begun to stabilise since the summer, but warned of "bumps" along the way to a full recovery.
"The data tells us that prices were still falling in 2010 and 2011 and in the early part of this year, it's only since the summer that they started to show signs of stabilisation," he said.
"It's Dublin and the cities leading the way. Based on the number of inquiries and viewings, I'd say the market is stabilising, but there will be still be bumps along the way."
Experts believe that hundreds of house sales will close before the end of this month, as buyers have until December 31 to avail of tax reliefs that cushion buyers for the first five years of their mortgage.
The move by EBS and Permanent TSB means there will be half-a-dozen lenders in the market from next year. Figures last month from the Irish Banking Federation showed that close to 4,000 new home loans were granted by banks in the July, August and September period.
It was the first annual rise in the number of mortgages drawn downs since 2006.