Ronan Lyons | Personal Website
Ronan Lyons | Personal Website

Two charts on the stock of property for sale in Ireland

In the last couple of months, I’ve sensed a growing impatience among those who, but for the bust, would have been first-time buyers at some point over the past two years or so. Granted this is purely anecdotal, but it’s worth exploring whether there’s anything to be said for the following line of reasoning:

“There are lots of us out there who would have bought, if the recession hadn’t happened. While there’s lot of stock for sale out there, much of it is apartments and in areas no-one really wants. The properties I want are the properties everyone like me wants and they’re going to go fast when the market turns, therefore I should be on the lookout for a good property now, so I don’t miss out.”

To shed some light on this, I’ve had a look at six types of property (anything more granular would start to lose its readability): apartments and houses in each of Dublin (Dub, in the charts below), the other four cities (City) and the rest of the country (ROC). I’m cheating a little here, as “apartments” actually refers to 1-bed and 2-bed properties, while houses refers to properties of between three and five bedrooms, but you get the gist. I will present these charts with minimal comment, so people can make up their own minds about what signals they send.

The first chart below shows how the six market segments have developed over the past year. Each line shows the number of properties listed on daft during 2009, relative to the average for late 2008, when the stock for sale nationwide peaked. Dublin has clearly seen a reduction in the total number of properties listed for sale, by about 15%. Outside the main cities, particularly for apartments, the number looks like it’s still rising.

Stock for sale in different segments of Ireland's property market over 2009 (2008Q4=100)
Stock for sale in different segments of Ireland's property market over 2009 (2008Q4=100)

I’ve deliberately put these numbers on the same scale and not in absolute numbers so that the trends can be compared. However, that’s not to say the absolute levels is unimportant. The following graph shows approximately what percentage of properties in each segment was listed for sale on daft in December 2009, based on Census 2006 figures.

The approximate percentage of properties for sale, by segment, December 2009
The approximate percentage of properties for sale, by segment, December 2009

So, there you have it. I’ll stick to my promise of making minimal comment, but am happy to take things up in the comments section, should anyone be so inclined!

  • Eoin ,

    Perhaps I’m not thinking it through – but I’m not 100% clear on the connetion between the amount of property for sale and the question implicit in the anecdote “when’s the best time to buy?”

    In my case, I want to buy a 3/4 bed semi in Dublin. I can see now that the amount of those on the market has fallen by about 15% in the past year, and that only about 1% of the total number are for sale.

    If I assume that normally there are significantly more of that type of house for sale, then this is a bad time to buy. Is that assumption/logic right?

    • Ronan Lyons ,

      Hi Eoin,
      Thanks for the comment. I’ll explain myself a little better!
      The first chart shows, as you say, the fall in the total amount of a particular type of property sitting on the market. Your desired type has indeed fallen by about 15% since late 2008.
      The second chart is probably more open to interpretation but my general reading is the apartment market in Rest-of-Country for example is likely to have a much longer period of adjustment than the house market in Dublin. I appreciate the implication in your comment, though, that like in the UK, there may be restricted supply of Dublin houses which could come on to the market if they see prices levelling off.

      Given that there is unlikely to be any rush either way on the property market, and given that the UK is going through this restriction of supply phenomenon, perhaps keep your eye on their market as a testbed for those parts of the Irish market that do not seem to have significant oversupply from the boom years. Here’s yesterday’s evidence from the UK:

      • Senan ,

        One other thing to bear in mind if thinking about jumping on the ladder at the moment are the known unknowns. What I mean by that is future events that we know about but we don’t quite know their exact nature, i.e. interest rates.

        The past week has been a turbulent one for Europe with question marks over Greece, Portugal, Spain, and less so now Ireland. This will make it harder for the ECB in the near-term to increase rates. But it will happen eventually and now (or soon) might be a good time to lock in to a low fixed rate (in the absense of trackers). And by extension, what with NAMA and all, it looks like banks will attempt to progressively increse their standard variable rates (as PTSB have done) to increase margin. So timing you entry and deciding between variable and fixed become a very important move.

        • Jonathan ,

          Hi All,

          I have a dilemma at the moment. I am just about to purchase a property and I was going to choose a 2.6 % variable rate. But considering the inevitable rises late this year or early next, I am considering a 5yr (approx 4 %) or 10 yr fixed (4.65 %) rate. Any comments please?

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