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Virus and Brexit blamed as national property sales slump by 4.6pc

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Still a struggle: House prices across the country are still rising, but at a lower rate on a monthly basis. Stock picture

Still a struggle: House prices across the country are still rising, but at a lower rate on a monthly basis. Stock picture

Still a struggle: House prices across the country are still rising, but at a lower rate on a monthly basis. Stock picture

The coronavirus lockdown and Brexit uncertainty are being blamed for a 4.6pc fall in property sales nationally.

The biggest drop in sales was seen in Wexford, where they slumped by 17.8pc, followed by Kildare at 16pc, Kilkenny at 15.2pc, and Louth at 12.3pc.

In Dublin, sales for the first quarter of the year decreased by 7.2pc compared to the same period last year, according to a study by MyHome.ie.

The dramatic drop in sales is the first indicator that Ireland is going to witness "a buyers' market", with lower prices expected, according to Angela Keegan, managing director of MyHome.ie.

The study by the property website looked at residential property sales recorded on the Property Price Register during the first quarter of 2020.

Monaghan bucked the trend with a 28.6pc increase in sales, while sales in Limerick were also on the rise - by 7.2pc.

"In the early part of the year, we were lagging behind," Ms Keegan told the Irish Independent.

"This year is a buyers' market. There was a wait-and-see attitude before the Brexit announcement.

"And we are at an early stage with Covid-19 but, let's be honest, the market has gone on ice.

"If sales are in the process, there's some chance of estate agents seeing them through to completion.

"But this time of year is normally peak selling time and people who want to sell their homes haven't got the ability to put their homes on the market."

She said that while estate agents are using technology to try and sell homes during the lockdown, vendors know they cannot attract buyers to the same degree as before.

"Covid-19 will impact the level of transactions hugely this year.

"The virus has to be dealt with before we can predict anything, but I think it's a buyers' market for the next while.

"A reduction in stock may help move stock but buyer confidence has to come back.

"I think rent and house prices will be impacted."

Ms Keegan said Covid-19 had "negated any potential bounce-back in activity following the Brexit uncertainty of last year".

Brexit uncertainty had a "significant effect" on sales in late 2019, "something which was apparent into the new year", Ms Keegan said.

"This was compounded by Covid-19 at the start of March, just when we thought we would see an increase in sales," she added.

Irish Independent