Property & Mortgages

‘We are witnessing the highest demand for housing I’ve ever seen’ – house prices rising despite Covid-19 crisis

Despite fears of a downturn in the market, the price of a three-bedroomed semi-detached house across the country has increased by more than €3,000

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The average three-bed semi is now reaching sale agreed after just six weeks on the market across the country – a significant fall from the 10-week average in June.
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The average three-bed semi is now reaching sale agreed after just six weeks on the market across the country – a significant fall from the 10-week average in June.

The price of an average three-bed semi has risen by almost 1.5pc over the past three months in a market fuelled by an unprecedented lack of supply.

Despite fears of a downturn in the market during the Covid-19 crisis, the price of a three-bedroomed semi-detached house across the country actually rose by more than €3,000 on average over the past three months to €239,194.

That represents an annual increase of 1.9pc, the Irish Independent REA Average House Price Index published today reveals.

Aside from Limerick, most regional cities have experienced house price rises averaging €500 per week in the past three months.

The most significant price jumps nationwide in the three-month period have been experienced in Waterford city (up 7pc), Sligo (up 5.5pc), Wicklow (up 3.5pc) and Roscommon (up 3.4pc). In contrast, counties which saw no price change in the quarter include Kerry, Laois, Limerick, Donegal, Clare and Cavan.

The average three-bed semi is now reaching sale agreed after just six weeks on the market across the country – a significant fall from the 10-week average in June.

REA agents nationwide, including parts of the capital such as Lucan and Stoneybatter, are reporting that houses are reaching sale agreed within a four-week period as mortgage-approved buyers chase a limited amount of stock.

Some estate agents have been almost entirely cleared out of homes to sell in certain segments.

The biggest rises in Q4 came in Ireland’s secondary cities and Dublin’s commuter counties. These had experienced the least movement in prices over the preceding 18 months.

“It is hard to imagine that the market would perform better during the crisis than before it, but we are witnessing the highest demand levels that I have seen,” said REA spokesperson Barry McDonald.

“People are watching the market very closely, and our agents are finding that as soon as they put a property up on our sites, the majority of the enquiries are coming within the first 48 hours.

“Pent-up demand and a scarcity of supply has seen the time taken to close sales fall from a high of 10 weeks in Q1 and Q2 to an average of six weeks nationally. My own agency – based in Lucan and west Dublin – is going sale agreed on most properties in under four weeks.”

The REA agent Harry Sothern in Carlow is among those who report being practically sold-out – with five properties currently for sale when he would usually have 25 at this time of year.

The situation is mirrored in Dublin, where there are just nine three-bed properties for sale in total in the entire Dublin 4 area, according to our agents REA Halnon McKenna.

“Putting a house on the market in early December would previously have been considered naive, however, this year, any suitable properties placed on the market have been sale agreed before Christmas,” says Mr McDonald.

The price of a three-bedroomed semi in Dublin city rose by 0.6pc to €431,833 during the past three months, an annual increase of 1.41pc.

However, with gardens and natural amenities as a main buying driver, interest in capital city areas such as seaside Clontarf (+4pc to €625,000) has surged in the past few months.

“A lot of employees from the big tech companies are moving over to the Clontarf area and trading up from apartments in the city,” said Jim Gallagher from REA Grimes in Clontarf, where prices have risen by €25,000 in the past three months (+4% to €625,000).

“Buyers want homes with a garden more than ever and we have up to 40 couples viewing each property. Buyers are decisive and they know what they want.”

North County Dublin prices rose by over €6,500 on average to €311,670, while South County Dublin prices increased by 0.5pc to €418,791.

Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford cities shared a combined increase of 2.4pc in the past 12 weeks, with prices rising by €6,000 to an average of €262,500.

Waterford city showed the biggest increase in this category, with prices rising by €15,000 in 12 weeks to €230,000 – a change of 7pc since September.

Local agents REA O’Shea O’Toole report that time taken to sell shortened by four weeks .

Galway city saw prices rise by €5,000 (1.8pc) in the same period, with any property with Home Office Potential (HOP) continuing to attract attention, according to agents McGreal Burke, and properties going sale agreed after four weeks.

Cork city saw its first price movement in over a year, with a 1.6pc uplift to €325,000, while Limerick city prices remained stable.

Commuter counties are now feeling the benefit of the migration towards space and home-working potential, with three-bed semis rising 2.2pc by almost €6,000 on the Q3 figure to an average of €253,111.

Prices rose by 3.5pc in Wicklow in the last quarter, with REA Forkin reporting activity levels unseen since 2009 .

Q4 saw prices in Meath rise by 1.6pc – or €4,000 on average – with one agent in Trim attributing the competition to hybrid workers, for whom commuting time is now becoming less of an issue as they work between home and the office.

“The market is being driven by buyers who may be working less than five days a week at home but would have previously bought a smaller house closer to Dublin because of the commute,” said agent Thomas Potterton in Trim, where prices rose by €5,000 in 12 weeks to €145,000.

Reflecting the flight to rural locations, prices in the rest of the country’s towns rose by 1.2pc on average over 12 weeks to €165,397.

The lowest reported average selling time was three weeks experienced in Leitrim, where REA’s Carrick-On-Shannon branch reports its busiest November in more than a decade (+1.3pc €160,000).

And perhaps the highest price increase of the quarter was experienced around Ballymahon, Co Longford, where values surged 10pc in three months, attributed to proximity to Center Parcs.

REA agents in Tubbercurry in Sligo reported similar increases, with a €10,000 rise in selling prices since September to €110,000, fuelled by remote workers.

In Roscommon selling time was cut from 10 weeks to four, with prices in the county up by 3.4pc to €150,000, and agent Seamus Carthy reporting an influx of people leaving Dublin to relocate there for home working.

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