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House prices fall €100k

House prices are now at 2003 levels as almost €100,000 has been wiped off the value of an average home.

The price of property has plummeted by a massive 31.5pc since the peak in early 2007.

Data published by the Permanent TSB/ESRI house price index outlined that the pace of property price declines escalated in 2009, with prices tumbling 18.5pc over the year compared to a fall of 9.1pc in 2008.

The standard house price in the country is now €213,000 and the figures deteriorated as the year progressed, with an 8.5pc fall in average prices in the last three months of the past year.

Niall O'Grady, general manager of business strategy at Permanent TSB, described 2009 as a "horrendous year" for the Irish housing market.

"The pessimist will say there's worse to come. The optimist will argue that affordability has improved so much that things will stabilise soon. But the realist will admit we'll have to wait and see," he said.

Separate research from Goodbody has indicated that there are between 103,000 and 144,000 vacant homes in the country.

Analyst Dermot O'Leary from Goodbody said the vacant houses "may not be in the right place".

"Ireland is still dealing with the legacy of the housing boom, but a two-speed market will emerge in the coming years with urban areas having less oversupply, like Dublin in particular, recovering first," he said.