Agent View: Future market will be driven by down-traders
We have witnessed some turbulent times, from the lows of 2008-2011 to 2012 and beyond when we have seen healthy year-on-year price increases and many property owners starting to see their way out of negative equity. Sadly, many others are still trapped in homes that no longer function for them and will never realise the price they originally paid.
Our biggest issue at the moment is lack of property coming to the market, both for letting and in sales.
We have lost a lot of landlords due to increased taxes, layers of bureaucracy and new minimum standards for multi-units. In Dublin 2, 4, 6 and 8 we have sold many multi-unit investment properties that housed multiple tenants at affordable rental levels and these have often been sold to a single person or couple, who then transform them into a single residence, thereby drastically reducing dwelling occupancy numbers. Yes, many of these houses did not comply with current minimum standards, but they were completely habitable and I firmly believe landlords should not have been forced to sell and leave many tenants with nowhere to go until there was provision made for alternative housing for those evicted.
With respect to sales, many are holding back on selling in the hope there will be further growth and they may be able to get out of negative equity. There is a huge number of prospective purchasers ready to buy and we are finding increasingly competitive bidding situations.
The Central Bank lending guidelines have certainly curtailed spending and yet the market is still full of cash buyers, both domestic and foreign. I would have concerns for the market if the cash buyers dry up as the regulations are so restrictive, and only leave wriggle room for lending at the beginning of the year, with the 15pc discretionary bank lending well used up in the first few months.
The property type that we find increasingly in demand is good-sized apartments in good locations for those trading down. With an ageing population, we'll soon see an outcry for generously sized apartments built with the owner-occupier in mind, which include large terraces, good storage areas, plenty of parking and good outdoor space. The Dublin market in particular is very strong at the moment and as long as the property is well presented and priced correctly, there will be plenty of interest and strong prices secured.
Felicity Fox is managing partner of Felicity Fox estates agents