Rising number of sales puts pressure on Coalition to ramp up home-building
THERE has been a surge in house sales in the first quarter of the year - highlighting the challenge facing the Government and construction sector to resume housebuilding at a sufficient level to meet pent-up demand.
Some 8,994 property transactions have been completed in the first three months of the year, a 32pc rise on the same period of 2014.
But data from the Property Price Register shows that as the market recovers, the lack of property coming on the market is fuelling prices.
In the first quarter of last year, some €1.3bn was spent across 6,797 transactions from the sale of a single home to entire apartment blocks. The average price per sale was €197,773.
In the same period this year, an additional €586m was spent with transactions totalling €1.93bn, a rise of 43pc in value terms.
This equates to an average sale price of €214,637, a rise of €17,000 or 8.5pc, fuelled by buyers attempting to secure a home in the midst of a major shortage of suitable properties in our main towns and cities.
That situation is unlikely to improve in the short-term. The most recent figures from the National Housing Construction Index, which is published by research company Link2Plans, says that while the number of planning permissions granted so far this year rose across 18 counties, the number of projects under construction fell from 1,816 in the first three months of 2014 to 699 in the same period this year.
In 2014, just over 11,000 homes were completed across the country. The Housing Agency says 80,000 units are needed to the end of 2018, but at the current completion rate this target is unlikely to be met.
But the register shows a marked appetite for period properties and larger, more expensive homes.
Some 88 properties costing €1m or more changing hands so far this year compared with 58 in 2014.
The register shows that the most expensive sold was businessman Tony O'Reilly's former estate in Co Kildare, Castlemartin, which fetched €26.5m, one of the largest prices paid in recent years.
The buyer is believed to be media mogul John Malone who controls UPC among other interests, who purchased the period house and 750-acres of stud farm and related lands on January 30.
But the register also shows what's happening at county level, with growth recorded across all but two markets.
In transaction terms, the highest increase is recorded in Limerick where 388 properties changed hands, a rise of 91pc. Longford was up 66pc to 120; Mayo (243, up 51pc), Clare (227, up 49pc) and Galway (522, up 43pc) and Kildare (399, up 43pc).
However, in monetary terms Kildare is by far the highest, but the figures may be skewed by the sale of Castlemartin. The register shows that in the first quarter of this year, some €116m worth of property changed hands, up €63m or a rise of 119pc.
Transactions doubled in Mayo, where €31m of property was sold. It is followed by Limerick, (€48m, up 94pc), Kilkenny (€22.5m, up 91pc) and Westmeath (€20.7m, up 78pc).
The recovery is less pronounced in two counties. In Wicklow, the number of transactions dropped to 207 (down 13pc), with the value of property sold also falling to €59m, a drop of 14pc.
In Roscommon, property sales totalling just under €8.5m were completed, a drop of 0.2pc. In transaction terms, just 108 sales were completed, representing a fall of 6pc.
Other counties with low growth rates include Laois, where transactions rose 10pc; Waterford, where they rose by 17pc and Louth where they increased by 19pc.
Figures from Eurostat show the continued upward march on prices as new mortgage lending rules and a lack of property coming onto the market fuel increases.
Among the member states, the highest annual increase in house prices to the fourth quarter of 2014 was recorded in Ireland, where prices rose 16.3pc. It is followed by Malta (11pc), Sweden (10.4pc), Estonia (10.1pc) and the UK, which is up 10pc.
While the rate of increase is declining, recent data from Daft.ie shows that prices have continued to rise into 2015 - but at a higher rate nationally than in the capital.
The average asking price nationally is now €201,000, according to Daft.ie, and prices increased by 4.6pc in the first three months of 2015.
This is the fifth year in a row of first-quarter sales increases. Back in 2011, just 3,491 homes were sold in this period, which rose to 4,258 in 2012 and 4,875 in 2013. Since 2011, there has been a 157pc increase.
That doesn't appear to show signs of slowing, but unless more new homes come on stream, buyers will be forced to pay more.
In transaction terms, the highest increase is recorded in Limerick where 388 properties changed hands, a rise of 91pc. It is followed by Longford, up 66pc to 120; Mayo (243, up 51pc), Clare (227, up 49pc) and Galway (522, up 43pc) and Kildare (399, up 43pc).