Figures offer hope that market has stabilised
ON the face of it, the latest property price figures are very good news for the beleaguered market.
Prices have jumped by the largest amount in five years. It was the second month in a row that values were up, and the fourth month in the past eight that there had either been a rise or no fall in prices.
The Central Statistics Office has said prices rose by 0.5pc across the country in August. Most economists concluded that this added to the growing evidence that prices had stabilised.
This means that values have stopped falling, but there is no guarantee they will start rising sharply any time soon.
But the CSO figures have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Firstly, the findings that Dublin prices are continuing to fall goes against perceived wisdom among economists, estate agents and mortgage experts. All these experts report strong demand for family-type homes in the capital.
That is why the publication of the first national price register, promised to be delivered in days, cannot come too soon.
The new register should help give young people thinking of buying better information to help them make a decision.
Some 475,000 are now renting in this country, a rise of almost 50pc from 2006. Many of these are sitting back but strongly tempted to buy, experts feel.
One of the big problems at the moment is that the property price picture transmitted by the CSO is fuzzy because it relies on mortgage drawdown data.
This often reflects a sale price agreed months ago, because of the delay between agreeing a price and the time the bank takes to issue the mortgage. The other problem is the CSO does not capture cash sales, which account for up to one-third of transactions.
But at least the emerging evidence is that a country that has experienced one of the worst property price collapses in the western world could now be over the worst.