Selling price of all houses will be revealed
THE real prices of all houses sold over the past two years is set to be revealed in the coming months as part of the Government's plan to revive the collapsed property market.
The new house price database, due to go online by the end of June, will contain the full addresses of all properties sold since January 2010, the date of the sales and the final selling price.
It is the first time that accurate information on the selling prices of houses will be available to the public, who have previously had to rely on rumour or the word of estate agents.
It is the latest attempt by the Government to kickstart the housing market, after they extended mortgage interest relief for first time and non-first time buyers for this year only. And two banks are offering homeowners in negative equity the option of tacking their debt on to a mortgage for a new property, freeing them up to move.
Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) chief executive Tom Lynch said the current situation in the property market was "a little bit of a lottery" -- and the database would give people accurate information.
"Its purpose is geared towards ensuring that when you are buying or selling a house, that you are aware of the market in your area and what the real value of the property might be," he said.
Mr Lynch admitted it would also be used by a lot of "nosy parkers" who wanted to find out what neighbours, friends or relations had paid for their houses.
"I can understand people's concerns about it. People would see the price that you pay for a property as a very personal issue. You are going to get a lot of people who will find it difficult. It will take time for it to become an accepted reality for people," he said.
There will be no way for people to "opt out" of what is officially called the House Price Register because the legislation passed last November requires all sales prices to be published in it "by law". Mr Lynch, a former deputy Data Protection Commissioner, said this had also dealt with concerns the database might fall foul of data protection legislation.
The PSRA is arranging to get the information on the final selling price of houses from the Revenue. The Revenue gets the value of every house sale from solicitors within 30 days of the transaction to calculate whether or not stamp duty is owed.
The PRSA's aim is to publish details of house price sales prior to January 2010 in the future -- but this will take longer because some of the stamp duty information hastily processed during the property boom did not contain accurate addresses.
The cost of the new website is not yet known. There will be just a basic search function to start with and users will be able to see the location and the appearance of many of the houses quickly by putting the addresses into programmes such as Google Maps.
A spokesman for Justice Minister Alan Shatter confirmed that the register would be free of charge for the public to use.
"The minister has already stated publicly that he believes publication of residential property sales prices will introduce much-needed transparency and help to revive confidence in the market," he said.
The introduction of such a register is standard in other developed countries and has been recommended here as far back as 1974 in the Kenny Report on housing.
Mr Lynch said he wanted to get the register set up as quickly as possible and expand it.
"I would hope in time to go further and link it to whether they are semi-detached properties, detached properties, rural or urban," he said.
A recent Central Bank house price report bemoaned the fact that there was no source of comprehensive housing market data in Ireland.
Even the general house prices figures produced by the Central Statistics Office are based on mortgages taken out. They do not include the cash sales that now account for a growing number of house purchases.
house price register can be a future crash barrier. Page 20