No sign of Irish property sales spurt as British homebuying surges post-lockdown

“The emerging evidence is against the idea that Dublin property prices will suffer from people working from home and spreading out.” Stock photo

Shawn Pogatchnik and David Milliken

Ireland’s property market has yet to record the kind of summer sales surge being experienced in post-lockdown Britain.

UK industry data published today identified an exceptional number of homes sold between mid-July and early August, reflecting pent-up demand from the coronavirus lockdown and a desire to leave costly London.

Property website Rightmove, used by nine-tenths of British estate agents, reported the highest number of monthly home sales since it began tracking such data more than a decade ago.

Rightmove said UK sales for the four weeks covering July 12 to August 8 totalled £37bn (€41bn), 38pc higher than for the same period a year ago and 20pc higher than the previous monthly record set in 2017. It said asking prices nationally were 4.6pc higher than a year ago, while London’s prices were 2pc lower.

But Trinity assistant economics professor Ronan Lyons, who authors regular market reports for Irish property site, said there’s no evidence yet of anything similar happening in our very different property market.

“The emerging evidence is against the idea that Dublin property prices will suffer from people working from home and spreading out,” he said. “We’re seeing a bigger price falloff in Munster and Connacht. Dublin and the rest of Leinster are holding their own so far since March.”

Mr Lyons said London casts a much bigger shadow over England’s property market than Dublin does here.

“Just because something happens in the UK doesn’t mean it will happen here. Our home provision and home ownership supports are different,” he said. “The cost pressures pushing people away from London are of a different magnitude than what we experience in Dublin versus the rest of the country. It is a much bigger factor in the south English market.”

He said Ireland’s housing sales data also rolls in more slowly than in the UK, meaning that some summer sales may not appear in Irish figures until October.

Rightmove said the British sales surge could reflect, in part, July's announcement there of a tax break for moving home. It said many Londoners were seeking to shift their residence away from the capital.

"Rather than just a release of existing pent-up demand due to the suspension of the housing market during lockdown, there's an added layer of additional demand due to people's changed housing priorities after the experience of lockdown," Rightmove director Miles Shipside said.

"The out-of-city exodus has helped push prices to record levels in Devon and Cornwall, for example, where working from home means a different lifestyle much closer to your new doorstep,” he said.

Hamptons International, a chain of estate agents, said private-sector rents in inner London were 8pc lower in July than a year ago as a collapse in foreign tourism and corporate relocation meant property that had previously been rented out short-term became available to long-term tenants.

Estate agents told Rightmove that buyers had been given extra impetus to move by the temporary exemption from property purchase taxes for homes costing up to £500,000 (€550,000) announced in July by UK finance minister Rishi Sunak.

However, demand was up across the board, not just for homes that benefited directly from the tax break.

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