It's a good time to buy a house, even if prices are still falling
FOUR out of five people believe now is a good time to buy a house, although similar numbers feel prices will still fall more, an Irish Independent/ Millward Brown Lansdowne poll reveals.
Indicating light at the end of the tunnel for the property market, the sentiment towards house buying has improved substantially – although with little help from the banks.
The poll comes as figures show the number of new mortgages in the first three months of the year fell again, but the rate of decline did slow down. In a clear indication that the majority believe there is value in the market, only 15pc of those polled disagreed with the idea that now was a good time to buy.
While the majority also feel prices will continue to fall, they do not believe this is significant enough to put off would-be buyers. While seven-in-10 people believe the housing market has not yet bottomed out and prices will continue to fall, four-fifths agree now is a good time to buy.
And most people believe more needs to be done to help those in negative equity to transfer their mortgages and to wipe the debt of homeowners who hand back the keys.
Almost half of those surveyed said they felt strongly that it was a good time to buy, with three in 10 agreeing slightly.
On the housing market and home loans, there is a belief mortgage holders and potential applicants should be given a fairer deal.
• 78pc feel homeowners should be allowed keep their low-interest tracker mortgages when moving house.
• 69pc think those who can't pay their mortgages should have their debts written off once they have handed back the keys and it has been sold by the bank.
• 68pc believe homeowners whose houses are in negative equity should be allowed to get a new mortgage and carry the negative equity with them.
• Only 14pc reckon banks are doing enough to help potential house buyers get mortgages.
The relatively positive mood on the market is reflected right across all groups. In terms of those who think it's a good time to buy, there are practically no differences along the lines of gender, age or social class.
The view that it's a good time to buy is slightly higher among working class people, but not massively.
Official indications at the start of this month suggested the end of the property collapse could be in sight.
Property prices were unchanged in March, and actually rose in Dublin, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Prices have now fallen by 49pc from the peak of the market in 2007.
Experts said the latest figures may indicate that property prices are close to stabilising after five years of falling.
However, economists feel that even if property prices have stopped falling, they may not rise for a year or more.
The opinion poll was conducted among a sample of 1,016 adults interviewed on a face-to-face basis in the home at 93 sampling points throughout all constituencies.
Interviewing was carried out on Monday and Tuesday.
The latest report from the Irish Banking Federation (IBF) and PricewaterhouseCoopers found nearly 2,700 mortgages worth €450m were released during the first three months of the year.
That was down nearly a fifth on the same period last year. However, it is the slowest rate of year-on-year decline since the start of 2007.