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Rise in stamp duty payment points to property pick-up

THE number of people paying stamp duty when buying property has increased by more than a fifth over the last two years -- a sign that the property market is finally beginning to pick up.

Stamp duty was paid on 33,000 property purchases in the first eight months of this year, compared with 27,000 over the same months in 2010, according to the latest figures from the Revenue Commissioners.

The figures include residential, non-residential and commercial property. As stamp duty is paid on properties bought with mortgages and cash, the figures are a good indication of the level of activity in the property market.

"The figures show that the market is improving a little -- in terms of the number of property transactions going on," says Tom Dunne, head of the school of real estate and construction in the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). "More people are comfortable to pay the prices in the current market, particularly in south Dublin or in places along key transport routes."

Some estate agents have also reported that last summer was their busiest since the downturn. The collapse in house prices, coupled with the deadline on mortgage interest relief -- which is available on houses bought before the end of the year -- is thought to be enticing buyers back into the market.

The number of properties changing hands after a purchase is still about a quarter of what it was at the height of the boom, according to the latest figures from the Property Registration Authority (PRA), which manages the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds.

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