Agents remain optimistic
Estate agents on the whole remain relatively optimistic about the outlook for the market in 12 months time, although they have become a little more cautious compared to last April.
The latest survey results show that 76pc of agents expect sales activity to increase in 12 months time, compared to 10pc expecting a decrease in sales activity.
Last April 76pc were expecting an increase in activity but only 1pc were expecting a decrease. Agents are also less optimistic about the outlook for the market in six months time, with 43pc expecting an increase in sales activity versus 15pc expecting a decrease. Respondents in the South West were the most optimistic as all of them expect increased activity, while Dublin respondents were also very optimistic with 83pc expecting an increase and only 2pc a decrease. Agents in the Border appear the least optimistic as 64pc of respondents from that region expect an increase versus 27pc a decrease. In the West 60pc expect an increase versus 15pc a decrease and in the Mid East 71pc expect an increase versus 23pc decrease.
This more cautious outlook for the next 12 months is probably due to a combination of factors, which include: the recent increases in retail bank mortgage interest rates, continued difficulties experienced by prospective buyers in accessing mortgage finance, concerns about the stability of some banks, the prospect of another difficult budget and concerns about the prospects for a sustained recovery in the economy and employment.
The findings indicate that the market is at the early stages of a recovery in activity, although this is primarily confined to the larger urban centres. Prices are continuing to fall and are unlikely to stabilise in many areas until supply is reduced.
However, prices in some areas are likely to now have bottomed off, particularly where supply is tightening.
There are two key elements that will be critical in engineering a sustained recovery in the market: the first is an improvement in the labour market by way of a fall in unemployment and a rise in employment, and the second is greater access to mortgage finance.
Many respondents report that difficulties in accessing mortgages is proving a major stumbling block. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for the market’s two key problems. Next year may be better than this year, but we are by no means out of the woods yet.
The survey is intended to act as a general guide and to provide an overview of where the market currently stands for different property types in each area and it is also very different to that found in other surveys in that it is based on the actual market experience and knowledge of professional estate agents.
The survey is based on information collected from 151 estate agents on prices, sales activity and the stock of properties for sale in each county and city area across the country. The data was collected between 24 August and 3 September.