House prices nationally fell in December according to the latest data from the Central Statistics Office.
However, the overall trend is that the great house price collapse across Ireland is slowly coming to an end. Individual months can and will throw out sudden price increases…and decreases which make the headlines but it is clear that the big collapse is slowly drawing to a close.
Throughout 2012, house prices in Dublin fell. The rate of the decline slowed dramatically between January and December. What began with a 21.7% year-on-year decline in January ended with a year-on-year decline of just 1.7%in December.
Other news contained within the mix of statistics from the CSO is that the property market continues to split along distinctive lines; house versus apartment and Dublin versus the rest of the country. Dublin is ahead on the recovery and apartments continue to be hit with significant declines.
Ever since 2004, when I first surveyed first time buyers, the preference for non-apartment living was clear. People sought homes in established areas with good transport links, local amenities and access to services. They wanted a little space in which to raise a family and if available, they wanted to dispense with the ritual of buying a so-called a starter home, preferring to purchase in areas where they could settle down.
It now appears that within this extraordinary buyers market, the evidence of today supports the desires of 9 years ago. House prices appear to be gaining at the expense of apartments. And it is entirely possible that this trend will continue for some time as the relative supply of houses is far less than apartments in the greater Dublin area.
The nascent improvement in the property market is taking place at the same time that mortgage providers are slowly returning to lending. Data recently published by the Irish Banking Federation reveals an increase in the number of mortgages approved here in November. Bank of Ireland also recently announced a modest increase in lending while Permanent TSB plans to increase lending five-fold during 2013.