Sunday 21 January 2018

Autumn will test strength of activity

Autumn seems a strange time to be looking for the prospects of green shoots. Yet there is only so much despair and pessimism that a body can take. A pick up in housing activity in some sectors of the market will bring comfort to those who have had to wait for months to sell their homes.

In Leinster the wait has been reduced by eight to 21 weeks according to the recent survey from the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute. Dublin homes are taking an average of 15 weeks to sell.

However in Munster the average time has extended by two to 28 weeks and in Connacht/Donegal it was up three to 34 weeks.

I noticed in my own area of Dublin 14 that three aged semis, which had been on the market for between six and 12 months, had sold within weeks of each other towards the beginning of July.

Admittedly, the asking prices for two of them were set at about half of the peak prices in the area.

Generally speaking the more successful vendors appear to be those with three or four-bedroom family type homes in respectable areas at prices below the €550,000 mark. Some canny Dublin vendors have been selling to generate cash. Even though their prices are half what they might have fetched at their peak, some empty nestors with little or no borrowings are finding that they can still generate cash by selling in the current market.

For instance if they sell a Dublin house for €500,000 they could buy a similar house in the regions or an apartment in the capital for about half the price of the house, and still have about €200,000 left towards their pension.

This trend should facilitate young families who want to move up from apartments to houses or move back from the outer reaches of the commuter belt to their original neighbourhoods and be closer to friends and family.

In the second quarter of this year more than 7,827 home buyers drew down mortgages -- a 12.5pc increase on the first three months which means that at least 14,700 homes were traded in the first half of the year.

Furthermore the average house hunter is now borrowing 15pc less than they did a year ago as their average mortgage is down from €196,256 to €166,770 -- a further reflection of improved affordability.

Usually the second half of the year is quieter than the first half due to holidays and the winter.

However, should the momentum seen in the second quarter be sustained, and the banks improve their lending activity, then there may be some hope that as many as 25,000 homes will be sold and bought this year.

Such activity should encourage more supply which in turn will enhance the choices available for all types of home buyers.

Irish Independent

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