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Dublin house prices at lowest in 12 years after latest dip



HOUSE prices in Dublin have fallen below the €200,000 barrier for the first time since the early months of 2000.

Values fell by almost 17pc last year - the fastest annual decline in almost two years, official figures have revealed.

The average cost of a home is now about €165,000 based on prices at the peak of the property boom in February 2007 while in Dublin prices have fallen to €198,260.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has reported prices down by 47pc in the last five years.

On top of that huge crash, the record for December shows house prices falling at their fastest rate since February 2010 and a steady increase in the rate of decline all through 2011.

The average price paid for a house nationally in February 2007 was euro €311,078, while in Dublin it was €431,000, according to the accepted report on mortgage drawdowns by Permanent TSB.

Based on those figures and the CSO's rate of decline, average prices in the capital are now just below the €200,000 barrier.

House prices have fallen so much they have now reached affordable levels for thousands on average salaries, a major new study claims.

The first of its kind, the global survey found it now takes the equivalent of little more than three times the average salary to buy a house here.

That compares with 10 times the average salary of €36,000 a year during the boom.

The price plunge puts houses within reach of teachers, nurses, gardai and office workers for the first time in years.

But with the prospect of further price falls and banks refusing mortgages to many applicants, the latest findings are unlikely to spark a major lift in demand.

Nonetheless the comprehensive snapshot of the market provides a critical insight.

The study is part of a major international examination of prices in cities across the globe.

It was carried out by the prestigious Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.

Its experts looked at 325 cities in English-speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Ireland.

It found housing in Waterford to be the most affordable followed by Galway, Cork, Dublin and finally Limerick.

Wendell Cox, principal of the Illinois-based Demographia said: "The bubble is over. Prices have continued to decline. We have housing prices back to where they're supposed to be."

The definition of affordable is that houses cost around three times the annual income of people living in the city.

This makes Dublin more affordable than Limerick, despite higher prices in the capital.

Galway and Waterford were the first cities outside North America to be rated affordable in the eight-year history of the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.

Assuming an average price of €150,000 and a saved deposit of 20pc (€30,000) a prospective buyer would have to borrow €120,000 which is a little more than three times the average earnings.

The findings may put more pressure on banks to acknowledge the new reality and start giving out more mortgages.

Only €2bn worth of mortgages was given out last year -- compared with €30bn mortgages at the height of the boom.

Auctioneers now estimate that one in three house are sold for cash and do not involve a mortgage.

But moves by Finance Minister Michael Noonan in last month's Budget to hike the amount of mortgage tax relief for first-time buyers taking the plunge this year may help stabilise the mortgage market, experts have said.

Bank of Ireland and AIB have both committed to lending more to new buyers, while Permanent TSB cut its lending rate for new buyers with effect from yesterday. It was the first cut in its new customer lending rate in four years.

Ireland was also the only nation without cities listed in the severely unaffordable category. Waterford, at 2.8 times, was the most affordable city among the five Irish cities surveyed followed by Galway (3), Cork (3.3), Dublin (3.4) and Limerick (also 3.4).

In contrast, the index was 12.6 in Hong Kong, by far the priciest market. And Canada, despite being larger in size than the United States with just one ninth of the population, continues to grow less affordable.

Irish Independent