The housing market is being dominated by movers and not first-time buyers, despite the introduction of a tax rebate, new figures reveal.
A lack of properties to buy and strong demand saw prices rise by close to 10pc in the year to March, after an increase of 0.1pc in the month.
The majority of buyers are movers, rather than first-time buyers. That's despite the Government's help-to-buy scheme which began in January. It offers a tax rebate of up to €20,000 to first-time buyers who purchase a new home.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said that in the year to March half of all buyers were moving house, with a quarter made up of first-time buyers. The rest were investors.
This is in contrast to the figures from the banks, which show that half of those being approved for a mortgage are first-time buyers, with 30pc made up of movers.
The CSO figures appear to indicate that many movers do not need additional mortgage finance.
The latest figures also show that just 667 newly built homes were bought in the first three months of the year, most of which are thought to have been secured by first-time buyers.
This is only 95 more than the first quarter of last year, when there was no rebate scheme.
Some 8,153 existing homes were bought in the first three months of the year, according to the CSO. The number of new homes sold represents just 7.6pc of the total transacted.
Meanwhile, property prices in Dublin were up 8.2pc in the year to March. There was a stronger rise in prices outside the capital, at close to 12pc.
The south-east showed the greatest price growth, with house prices increasing by 15.5pc. The mid-east showed the lowest price growth, with house prices increasing by 9.2pc.
Last month, the CSO said prices were up 11.7pc in February. It now says they rose by 9.4pc in February, after more stamp returns were made, and the figures were revised.
In the year to March, the average market price paid across the State for a home was €246,948.
The average price paid by households was higher in Dublin than in any other region or county, at €400,500.
Dublin's Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown local authority area was the most expensive, with an average price of €561,203.
The least expensive region for purchases over the past 12 months was the Border area, with an average price of €116,226. The least expensive county was Longford, with an average price of €87,989.
"There is a housing crisis. A lack of supply of houses has pushed up the cost of a property and until this issue is addressed, prices will likely remain elevated, and unaffordable to many," said Merrion Stockbrokers' Alan McQuaid.