THE numbers of houses and apartments bought and sold last year rose sharply, in a further sign the market has stabilised.
The number of residential property transactions jumped by 34pc to 24,000, according to information on the new property price register.
And there has been a big rise in the numbers of mortgage-backed buyers snapping up properties at the Allsop Space auctions.
Now, just half of the properties are being purchased with cash.
Up until recently, eight out of 10 successful bidders were cash buyers, but now there is an even split between those buying with cash and those using mortgage funding.
Allsop Space director Robert Hoban said the surge in the numbers buying with a mortgage was evidence of greater lending activity by the banks.
And Allsop claims a large number of properties auctioned achieved higher prices than in private sales, according to statistics for the nine auctions held so far, and seen by the Irish Independent, show.
Mr Hoban said this was particularly the case with high-end properties.
He said a Northumberland Road property in Dublin had sold for €550,000 last summer. When it was auctioned by Allsop Space in October, it achieved €685,000.
Half of the 777 properties sold in the nine auctions so far were for people to live in, with around half bought by investors.
Some 13pc of buyers were based overseas, he said.
A total of five Allsop auctions are planned this year, with an expectation that there could be up to 200 lots in each one. This is double the average for each of the five auctions held last year.
There was disappointment earlier this week when the Central Statistics Office said property prices fell in December. This was despite rises in four of the previous six months.
A number of property commentators questioned the accuracy of the CSO figures, which do not include cash purchases.
But now it has emerged that there was a marked rise in the number of residential properties transacted across the entire market in 2012, data from the Property Price Register shows.
Some 24,249 properties were transacted in 2012, up 34pc from the previous year, according to an analysis of the register by NCB Stockbrokers' chief economist Philip O'Sullivan.
He said the big rise in the number of transactions was a sign that residential property prices had begun to stabilise.
Almost half of the houses and apartments transacted were in Dublin.
"While the strong finish to 2012 is likely to have been partly driven by a rush to avail of mortgage interest relief before its phasing out on December 31, the data shows a marked pick-up in transactions activity throughout the whole of last year, with every month recording gains of between 12pc and 53pc on an annual basis," Mr O'Sullivan said.
Is now the time to invest in Ireland Inc? See Business, Pages 38-39