New research has revealed that the Covid-19 outbreak has put the brakes on what was shaping up to be a strong recovery in Irish house prices.
Average house prices nationally had been returning to growth and Dublin market values were up by more than €1,000 in the quarter leading into the outbreak, the Irish Independent/REA Average House Price Index found.
The price of an average three-bedroom semi-detached house nationwide rose by 0.14pc over the past three months to €235,028, after an annual decline of 0.63pc in 2019.
The figures illustrate how confidence had returned to the market, after months of Brexit uncertainty, with many agents indicating an upturn in viewings and sales since the start of the year.
The price of a three-bedroom semi-detached house in Dublin city rose by 0.3pc in the first quarter of 2020, after a 4pc decline in 2019, and agents had been experiencing an increase in first-time buyer activity.
The average family home in the capital's postcode districts registered an increase to €427,167, a rise of €1,333 on the December figure of €425,833, with time taken to sell decreasing from nine to eight weeks before the outbreak kicked in.
The index, which measures real-time sales across the country through the 50-plus branch network of the Real Estate Alliance, assesses price movements of the most typical home type, the three-bed semi, and is therefore a more accurate reflection of prices achieved than barometers based on asking prices.
In the capital, the market saw a return to growth in the south of the county, which rose by 0.3pc to €413,333, after falling 5pc in 2019.
With a high number of luxury homes, this location is perhaps the one which had been hit hardest by Brexit uncertainty, along with coastal tourist locations popular with the British.
The availability of new developments in north Co Dublin, however, saw three-bed semi prices decline in that location by 0.8pc to €312,500 in Q1.
Prices in the commuter counties rose by 0.4pc in the first three months of the year before the crisis hit, with the average house now selling for €247,556 - after an annual fall of 1pc in 2019.
The highest percentage rise to March came in Wexford, where prices grew 9.5pc to €202,500, an increase of €17,500.
The best quarterly growth happened in Kildare, where prices increased by 1.1pc in Q1 and 3.1pc annually to €285,000.
Prices rose by 0.4pc in Galway city in the first quarter, with Limerick values surging by 2.5pc in that time to €205,000.
Prices in regional towns increased by an average of 1.67pc in the quarter.
"There is no doubt that we saw a stronger market in Q1 up to the start of the current health crisis," said REA spokesperson Barry McDonald.
"We are suddenly in a time of uncertainty and a pause button has been pressed on a lot of activity.
"State interventions of the past week have been welcome in providing increasing levels of security and certainty to loan-approved buyers.
"We are in a different place than in 2008, and we will now benefit from the effects that the Central Bank's lending restrictions have had."