Residential Property Transactions fall by over 20% in 2020

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Number of buildings under construction in December 2020 up on previous year despite Covid-19 disruption  

GeoView Residential Buildings Report Q4 2020 Highlights:  

  • The number of residential property transactions in Ireland fell by 21.1% in the twelve months to November 2020 
  • 21,851 residential address points were added to the GeoDirectory database in 2020, a 7.3% increase year-on-year  
  • There were 16,735 buildings under construction in Ireland in December 2020 compared to 14,990 in December 2019  
  • The national vacancy rate declined slightly by 0.2 percentage points to 4.6%  
  • The average residential property price in the State was €294,184 in the twelve months to November 2020. This falls to €231,549 when Dublin is excluded  

26th January 2021:  

The number of residential property transactions declined sharply in 2020 according to the latest GeoView Residential Buildings Report published by GeoDirectory and EY-DKM today. In the twelve months to November 2020, there were a total of 35,542 residential property transactions across the State, a drop of 21.1% compared to the previous year. A decline in purchasing activity was recorded in every county, with Dublin experiencing the sharpest drop in absolute terms, down 3,981 transactions year-on-year.  

Of the transactions, only 18.9% were classified as newly built dwellings. This figure is 0.2 percentage points (ppts) above the figure for the corresponding period to November 2019.  

Construction Activity 

Despite significant disruption to the construction sector in 2020 due to Covid-19, there remains a healthy pipeline of construction activity. 16,735 residential buildings were under construction in Ireland in December 2020, representing a 11.6% increase on the same period in 2019. Of those buildings under construction, the highest number were found in Dublin (2,737). However, this figure for the capital is down 34.1% on December 2019 levels.  

58.7% of all residential buildings under construction were located in Leinster, 5.9 ppts lower than the same period in 2019. In contrast, increases in residential construction were recorded in Connacht (+2.3 ppts), Munster (+1.8 ppts) and Ulster (+1.8 ppts).  

Additions to GeoDirectory Database 

A total of 21,851 new residential address points were added to the GeoDirectory database in 2020, an increase of 7.3% compared to December 2019. Over half (51.8%) of the new address points were located in the Greater Dublin Area of Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow, with just under a third (33.1%) of the total located in the Capital itself.  

Leitrim (82), Longford (82) and Sligo (130) were the counties that recorded the fewest additions to the database.  

Property Prices 

The average residential property price in Ireland in the twelve months to November 2020 was €294,184, representing a decline of 0.7% year-on-year. When Dublin is removed from the national average, the average residential property price was €231,549.  

Unsurprisingly, the highest residential property prices were found in the Capital, with an average price of €442,711. This was an increase of 0.8% compared to the equivalent 2019 figure. Wicklow (€381,441) and Kildare (€318,744) were the only other counties in which the average property price exceeded the national average.  

The lowest average property prices were located in rural areas, with Longford (€122,989), Leitrim (€126,316), and Roscommon (€128,920) recording the lowest prices.  

Vacancy Rates 

The average vacancy rate in Ireland in December 2020 was 4.6%, which was 0.2 ppts lower than the previous year. At 1.6%, Dublin had the lowest vacancy rate in the country, but was also the only county to record an increase in its vacancy rate (0.4 ppts). Kildare (2.0%) and Wicklow (2.5%) were the counties with the lowest vacancy rates outside of Dublin.  

Continuing a trend from previous reports, the three counties with the highest vacancy rates were all located in Connacht. Leitrim, at 14.5%, had the highest residential vacancy rate in the country, but on a positive note, recorded a year-on-year decline 0.8 ppts. After Leitrim, Roscommon (12.6%) and Mayo (12.2%) registered the next highest vacancy rates. 

Commenting on the latest GeoView Residential Buildings Report, Dara Keogh, Chief Executive, GeoDirectory said, “This report shows the initial impact that Covid-19 has had on the residential property market. The data shows that prospective buyers and sellers have held off on activity in 2020, resulting in significantly fewer transactions. However, a certain level of demand has remained, which meant that house prices held firm across the country. Despite a temporary restriction on construction activity in 2020, there was a high level of residential buildings under construction in December 2020. It remains to be seen what impact the current restrictions on construction activity will have on this pipeline of new builds in 2021.”  

Annette Hughes, Director, EY-DKM Economic Advisory said, “The increase in the number of buildings under construction is very welcome in the current environment. The core challenge for the housing sector now is maintaining growth against the background of Covid-19. The risk is that prolonged lockdown restrictions, which commenced in January, will slow the construction sector further. Meanwhile with the level of household deposits up by €13.5bn (+14.4%) since the start of the pandemic, the expectation is that this elevated level of savings will support the economic recovery and housing market transactions post Covid-19. Thus, it is imperative that the focus remains firmly on improving housing supply to avoid house price inflation.” 

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