Irish property price growth slowing as new lending rules have an impact

Residential property prices in Ireland are continuing to increase year on year but the rate of growth has slowed considerably, the latest official data show

Figures from the Central Statistics Office shows that in the year to November prices at a national level increased by 6.5%. This compares with an increase of 7.6% in October and an increase of 16.2% recorded in the 12 months to November 2014.   

The data also show that prices actually fell on a national level month on month in November by 0.5%. This compares with an increase of 1.6% recorded in October and an increase of 0.5% recorded in November of last year.

In Dublin residential property prices decreased by 1.3% in November and were 3.3% higher than a year ago. Dublin house prices decreased by 1.2% in the month and were 3.1% higher compared to a year earlier. 

Dublin apartment prices were 6.1% higher when compared with the same month of 2014. However, it should be noted that the sub-indices for apartments are based on low volumes of observed transactions and consequently suffer from greater volatility than other series.

The price of residential properties in the rest of Ireland rose by 0.2% in November compared with a rise of 1.2% in November of last year. Prices were 9.6% higher than in November 2014.

House prices in Dublin are now 33.8% lower than at their highest level in early 2007 while apartments in Dublin are 41% lower than they were in February 2007. Prices in Dublin are 35.8% lower than at their highest level in February 2007. 

The price of residential properties in the rest of Ireland is 36.2% lower than their highest level in September 2007. Overall, the national index is 33.8% lower than its highest level in 2007.

However, experts think that prices will rise by around 6% in 2016 and point out that the decrease in prices in Dublin has more to do with new Central Bank rules on lending than a downturn in the real estate market.

‘Given that the Central Bank’s rules on high loan to value mortgages apply only to first time buyers in homes over €220,000, their impact has been felt most sharply in the capital where affordability is most stretched,’ said Conall MacCoille, an analyst with Davy Research.

‘The recovery outside the capital began almost one year later, so that affordability is less stretched, and there is probably more room for catch-up,’ he explained, adding that the firm expects property prices to rise by some 7% through 2016 as wages grow and tax cuts take hold.
 
Goodbody economist Juliet Tennant also believes that the Central Bank’s new lending restrictions, which limit banks from lending any more than 80% of a mortgage except in the case of first time buyers, have had an effect.

‘Macro prudential rules are continuing to have a dampening impact on the Irish housing market. However, the expiration of the Capital Gains Tax waiver at the end of 2014 also makes annual comparisons difficult. It will take some time for these distortions to wash through and it is likely that price growth will slow further before picking up again,’ she added.