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Price of homes 'to fall 23pc in two years'

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HOUSE prices here will fall by 13pc this year and a further 10pc in 2010, international credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's has predicted.

After suffering the sharpest price fall in Europe in the four years to 2010, Standard & Poor's (S&P) expects Irish prices to stabilise in 2011.

However, some Irish estate agents believe that much of these price fall predictions are already priced into current Irish house prices following a spate of house-price cuts by builders since the start of the year.

S&P is using the Permanent TSB (PTSB) house price index as its guide and this has been criticised by many estate agents, including Michael Grehan of Sherry FitzGerald and Keith Lowe of Douglas Newman Good, for being too late with its price trend calculations.

These agents reckon that Irish prices have fallen by between 35pc and 40pc from their 2007 peak but the PTSB index, because of the way it is calculated, has so far recorded a fall of only 20pc from peak.

Furthermore, S&P's 13pc price fall forecast for 2009 suggests that it expects the PTSB index to fall by only 27pc between its 2007 peak and the end of December this year. Consequently, agents now estimate that some of next year's S&P forecast may also be priced into prices currently being quoted by some developers.

In the meantime, S&P also estimates that Irish houses are currently more affordable than any other homes in the five housing markets surveyed, based on an OECD survey.

Affordability

One of the pluses from a buyer's perspective is that S&P highlights how affordability of Irish homes is the best of the five countries surveyed. On the negative side, it expects oversupply of Irish houses to continue to dampen the Irish market.

S&P refers to a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors survey showing an excess of 250,000 homes before the market downturn and how IBEC forecast that 100,000 migrant workers could leave the country this year "creating a severe slump in the buy-to-let market and in turn further depressing the market as a whole".

S&P expects France will be the only one of the five European countries to show a price increase next year while UK house prices will stabilise. Spanish prices are also expected to fall 10pc next year and 5pc in 2011.

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