The number of €1m-plus homes trading hands has risen year-on-year as families struggle to secure a foothold on the housing ladder.
ome 511 high-end properties were sold in 2016, an increase of 37 or 8pc, despite a sharp drop in the number of houses and apartments trading hands due to a lack of supply.
An analysis of the Property Price Register shows that almost 4,000 fewer homes were sold in 2016 compared with 2015, but that prices rose by an average of €20,000 per unit.
Worryingly, among the sharpest falls in transactions were in areas of highest demand.
Some 2,300 fewer homes were sold in Dublin last year, a drop of 15pc. In Cork, they fell by 402, down 7.5pc.
The sharpest fall was in Galway, where just 2,316 property transactions took place - down 506, or almost 18pc.
The figures include both new and second-hand homes and come after a series of Government initiatives were introduced aimed at boosting the construction sector and helping first-time buyers secure a home.
They include the introduction of the Help to Buy scheme, which allows first-time buyers to reclaim up to €20,000 in taxes to fund a deposit.
The latest figures from the Revenue Commissioners show that 1,502 have sought relief under the scheme.
The State has also allowed local authorities to reduce development levies in areas of high demand to spur developers into building homes, and Central Bank lending rules which limit amounts which could be borrowed have been adjusted.
The measures are needed because between 25,000 and 30,000 new homes are required every year just to keep pace with demand.
However, new figures from the Department of Housing show that in the first 11 months of last year, just 13,376 have been completed.
Chief economist at Goodbody, Dermot O'Leary, said that while supply continues to increase at a fast pace, it is from a low level.
"These are exceptional growth rates, but must be seen in the context of the exceptionally low level that they are coming from and our housing demand forecast is circa 31,000 per annum," he said.
"The multi-year growth period for housing supply has a lot more to run, aided by ongoing demand, loosening credit conditions, foreign capital and government initiatives."
He predicts just 18,500 will be built next year, but officials in the department expect it to exceed 20,000, pointing to a sharp rise in planning permissions granted which are up around 45pc year-on-year.
But the lack of properties being built is having little or no impact on wealthy buyers seeking a high-end home.
The register also shows that in 2016, some 511 homes costing more than €1m were sold. This compares with 474 in 2015.
Overall, some 598 transactions above €1m were concluded. This includes block sales of apartment buildings, and follows annual increases since 2010 in the number of €1m-plus transactions occurring.
The most expensive private residence sold last year was the Lyons Estate in Celbridge, Co Kildare. The mansion and surrounding lands fetched just over €12m.
Most of the luxury homes were purchased in Dublin (455), followed by Wicklow, Kildare and Meath. 18 were sold in Cork.
Total investment in these luxury homes stood at almost €838m, with an average selling price of €1.6m each.
While the sharpest rise in the value of the 'average' transaction was in Clare, up 37pc to €170,494, this includes the sale of student accommodation at Thomond Village at the University of Limerick for €33.1m in March last year. When this is excluded, the average price stands at €138,579.
The register also reveals:
• Last year, 44,956 property transactions took place across the State. This compares with 48,889 in 2015, a drop of 3,933. Total spending on residential property amounted to €10.683bn.
• The average price paid in each transaction rose by more than 10pc from €220,177 to €242,639 - up €22,462.
• The sharpest rise in the value of the 'average' transaction was in Louth, up 15.9pc to €165,435.
• The most expensive county in which to buy is Dublin, up almost €48,000 year-on-year to €398,757. It is followed by Wicklow, Kildare, Meath, Cork and Galway.
• The cheapest county is Longford, where the average price per transaction was €83,319, up 15.2pc.
• The value of all transactions last year totalled €10.683bn - a slight fall of just €81m, despite almost 4,000 fewer units being sold. In 2015, transactions totalled €10.764bn.
The register shows that new home transactions have remained largely static, suggesting that a lack of second-hand homes coming onto the market is hampering the ability to families to purchase.
See 'How Much Is Your House Worth? 2017' in today's Irish Independent