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All agree that property prices are on the rise

IF an estate agent told you the time you might be tempted to check the information with someone else.

Estate agents are among the trades and professions that have emerged from the bust with their reputations in tatters.

However, despite out mistrust of estate agents it is hard to argue with their on-the-ground knowledge of the state of our property market.

Estate agencies DNG and Lisney now reckon property prices are on the rise.

And Finance Minister Michael Noonan said yesterday the market has bottomed out and now was a good time to buy.

Head of NAMA Brendan McDonagh has a good handle of where the market is headed. He too reckons the worst is over.

Yes, these people all have a vested interest in property prices rising, as has anyone who owns a home, particularly if it is in negative equity.

But it is hard not to agree with them, as the evidence is slowly stacking up in their favour.

Earlier this week the CSO said prices were up again in August, and by the strongest amount in five years.

Demand is strong for housing in the capital, every estate agent agrees.

Pent-up

The Central Bank reckons prices have fallen by up to one-quarter more than they should have done. And there is pent-up demand among those in their twenties and thirties. A large number of these young people, if they can get a mortgage, will likely buy before the end of the year to avail of generous, and soon-to-go, mortgage-tax reliefs.

The end of the reliefs could mean a dip in prices next year, as the withdrawal of the tax relief could sap demand.

Also, the property tax will act as a dampener on the market, along with persistently high unemployment and banks' reluctance to lend.

It is hard to be certain at the moment. We should get a proper fix on the housing market next week, when the property price register is finally set to be published by the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA).

The register was due at the end of September. Tom Lynch of the PSRA said yesterday it was ready to go but was just had some final testing that needed to be done.

It will be available at www.psr.ie, and will give the price and location for every house sale in the past two years. Information on the register should put an end to the guessing game around property prices.

Most expect the new register to confirm that we are coming out of one of the worst housing collapses in the world. And not before time.

Irish Independent