Category Archives: RPPI

12/8/17: Are Irish Property Prices on a Sustainable Path?

Some of the readers of this blog have been asking me to revisit (as I used to do more regularly in the past) the analysis of Irish property prices in relation to the ‘sustainability trend’. With updated CSO data on RPPI, here is the outrun.

The charts below show current National and Dublin property price indices in relation to the trends computed on the basis of the following CORE assumptions:
  • Starting period: January 2005
  • Starting index ‘sustainability’ positions: National = 82.0 (implying that long-term sustainable market valuations were around 18 percentage points below market price levels at January 2005 or at the levels comparable to Q4 2010); Dublin = 83.0 (implying 17 percentage points discount on January 2005).

Charts above use the following SPECIFIC trend assumptions:
  • Linear (simplistic) trend at 2% inflation target + 0.5 percentage points margin. This implies that under this trend, property prices should have evolved broadly-speaking at inflation, plus small margin (close to tracker mortgage rate margin).

In all cases, current markets valuations are well below the long-term sustainability target and there is significant room for further appreciation relative to these trends (see details of target under-shooting in the summary table below).

Chart above shows tow series sustainability targets computed on the basis of different specific assumptions, while retaining same core assumptions:
  • I assume that property prices should be sustainably anchored to weekly earnings. 

Using only weekly earnings evolution over January 2005-present, as shown in the above chart, both Dublin and National house prices are currently statistically at the levels matching sustainability criteria. There is no statistical overshooting of the sustainability bounds, yet.

Chart above again modifies specific assumptions, while retaining the same core assumptions. Specifically:
  • I assume that both earnings and interest rates (using Euribor 12 months rate as a dynamic gauge) co-determine sustainable house prices. In a away, this allows us to reflect on both income and cost of debt drivers for house prices.

As the chart above clearly shows, both National and Dublin property markets are still well underpriced compared to the long term sustainability targets, defined based on a combination of earnings and interest rates. Note: correcting this chart for evolution of unemployment brings sustainability benchmarks roughly half of the way closer to current prices, but does not fully erase the gap.

Summary table below:

So, overall, the above exercise - imperfect as it may be - suggests no evidence of excessive pricing in Irish residential property at this point in time. There are many caveats that apply, of course. Some important ones: I do not account for higher taxes; and I do not factor in difficulties in obtaining mortgages. These are material, but I am not sure they are material enough to bring the above gaps to zero or to trigger overpricing. Most likely, the national residential prices are somewhere around 5-7 percent below their sustainability bounds, while Dublin prices are around 7-10 percent below these bounds. Which means we have a short window of time to bring the markets to the sustainable price dynamics path by dramatically altering supply dynamics in the property sector. A window of 12-18 months, by my estimates.

27/7/15: Irish Property Prices: 2Q 2015

Latest data from CSO for June 2015 shows significant slowdown in house prices inflation across all segments of the market.

Monthly results are summarised in the table below

Using historical data, quarterly figures are pretty poor:

  • Dublin residential properties index in 2Q 2015 was 15.4% up on same period in 2014, which marks a major slowdown in growth from 21.9% y/y growth recorded in 1Q 2015.
  • Outside Dublin residential property prices rose 10.98% y/y in 2Q 2015, which is faster than 9.39% rise in 1Q 2015.
  • National residential prices were up 13.40% in 2Q 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, while 1Q increases were slower at 15.75%.
  • Compared to 2Q 2014, y/y growth fell in Dublin and Nationwide, but rose Outside Dublin

Finally, based on the first 6 months of 2015, here is the current residential price index for Dublin compared to long-term fundamentals price trends (at inflation and at ECB target rate):

So what is going on in the markets to drive prices inflation moderation?

  1. Poor affordability: wages growth did not keep up with prices inflation in recent years, which means that once the savings pool for downpayment cushions is exhausted, households will be finding it increasingly difficult to secure purchases at current prices. Affordability is also impaired by rising rents - which take larger and larger chunks of household income that could have gone to savings for a downpayment on mortgages.
  2. Households' purchasing power in the property market was also reduced significantly by new lending caps introduced by the Central Bank of Ireland back in February this year. Caps restrict mortgages to LTV ratios <80 15="" 85="" all="" be="" can="" for="" in="" issued.="" issued="" loans="" mortgages="" new="" of="" only="" other="" words="">80% LTVs. Additional caps apply to loan-to-income (LTI) ratios, with only 20% of new loans allowed to exceed 3.5x income. Irish house prices are currently at around 5x average / median income nationwide and 6x in Dublin Worth noting that CSO series for house price indices are based on 3mo average, so February changes can be expected to feed through into data from around April on. 1Q effect was largely anticipatory, while 2Q effect is now pricing CBI rules changes.
  3. Geographically - the above effects are compounded in Dublin where income ratios are more stretched and rents are higher and rising faster.

In line with the above, transactions volumes are slipping as well: in 1Q 2015 volume of transactions registered in Ireland was up 54% y/y - signalling buyers booking in pre-restriction mortgages. In 2Q 2015 this appears to have fallen (data is still incomplete) to a 17-19% growth rate y/y. Compared to FY 2014 average increase of 45% this rate of transactions growth is low, although in my view, the supply of quality properties in the market has also moderated significantly in recent quarters.

Are we going through another boom-to-bust sub-cycle here? I am not sure. All will depend on what prices will do over the next 12 months or so, with potential trend change (from downside to growth) around 1Q 2016. Too far to call.

8/5/15: Irish Residential Property Prices: Q1 2015

Updating residential property price indices for Ireland for 1Q 2015:

  • National property prices index ended 1Q 2015 at 80.7, up 16.79% y/y - the highest rate of growth in series history (since January 2005), but down on 4Q 2014 reading of 81.4. Latest reading we have puts prices at the level of October 2014. Compared to peak, prices were down 38.2% at the end of 1Q 2015. National property prices were up 25.9% on crisis trough in 1Q 2015.

  • National house prices ended 1Q 2015 at index reading of 83.8, which is down on 84.6 reading at the end of 4Q 2014, but up 16.55% y/y - the highest rate of growth in the series since September 2006. Relative to peak, national house prices were still down 36.5%.At the end of 1Q 2015, house prices nationally were up 25.5% on crisis period trough.
  • National apartments prices index finished 1Q 2015 at 66.4, up on 4Q 2014 reading of 64.2 and 25.5% higher than a year ago. Apartment prices are down 46.4% on their peak and up 45.3% on crisis period trough. Y/y growth rates in apartments prices is now running at the highest level in history of the CSO series (from January 2005).

  • Ex-Dublin, national residential property price index ended 1Q 2015 at 75.3, marking a marginal decline on 4Q 2014 reading of 75.5, but up 10.74% y/y - the highest rate of growth since May 2007. Compared to peak, prices are down 41.5% and they are up 13.9% on crisis period trough.
  • Ex-Dublin house prices finished 1Q 2015 at the index reading of 77.1, which is virtually unchanged on 77.2 reading at the end of 4Q 2014. Year-on-year prices are up 10.78% which is the fastest rate of expansion since May 2007. Compared to peak prices are still 40.6% lower, although they are 14.2% ahead of the crisis period trough.
  • Dublin residential property prices were at 82.5 at the end of 1Q 2015, down on 83.8 index reading at the end of 4Q 2014. Annual rate of growth at the end of 1Q 2015 was 22.77%, the highest since October 2014. Dublin residential property prices are down 38.7% compared to peak and up 44% on crisis period trough. Over the last 24 months, Dublin residential property prices grew cumulatively 40.3%.
  • Dublin house prices index ended 1Q 2015 at a reading of 86.9, which is below 88.8 index reading at the end of 4Q 2014, but up 22.05% y/y, the highest rate of growth in 3 months from December 2014. Dublin house prices are down 36.9% on pre-crisis peak and are up 42.93% on crisis period trough. Over the last 24 months, cumulative growth in Dublin house prices stands at 39.5%.
  • Dublin apartments price index ended 1Q 2015 at a reading of 73.7, up on 70.2 reading attained at the end of 4Q 2014, and up 29.75% y/y - the fastest rate of growth recorded since September 2014. Compared to peak, prices are still down 42.2% and they are up 59.2% on crisis period trough. Over the last 24 month, Dublin apartments prices rose cumulatively by 51.3%.

Longer dated series available below:

And to update the chart on property valuations relative to inflation trend (bubble marker):

As chart above clearly shows, we are getting closer to the point beyond which property prices will no longer be supported by the underlying fundamentals. However, we are not there, yet. Acceleration in inflation and/or deceleration in property prices growth will delay this point significantly. One way or the other, there is still a sizeable gap between where the prices are today and where they should be in the long run that remains to be closed.

25/3/15: Irish Residential Property Prices Fell Marginally in February

The residential property price index from CSO covering Irish property markets has posted second monthly contraction in February, falling from 80.3 in January to 80.0 last month. With that, y/y on growth rate in Irish residential property prices has slowed from 15.54% in January to 14.94% in February, the first sub-15% reading since September 2014. In effect, property prices in Ireland have now fallen back to the levels between September and October 2014. Cumulated gains in property prices over the last 24 months are now totalling 24.22% or an annualised gain of 11.46%, outpacing growth in the economy by roughly 5-fold.

Based on Nama valuations formula, residential property prices are now somewhere 18.5% below Nama business model expectations.

Prices of all residential properties excluding Dublin  remained static in February at 74.8, same as in January and up 8.25% y/y, marking a slowdown in the y/y growth from 9.20% recorded in January.

The decline in national prices was driven by Dublin prices, which fell for the second month in a row from 82.2 in January to 81.6 in February. This is the lowest index reading since September 2014 and marks a slowdown in y/y growth rates to 21.43% - the slowest rate of growth since April 2014. Still, cumulated expansion in Dublin residential property prices over the last 24 months is blistering 37.6% (annualised rate of 17.3%).

Within Dublin segment:

  • Houses were the driver to the downside in overall property prices, with houses price index for Dublin standing at 86.0 in February 2015, down from 86.9 in January 2015 and back to the levels of September 2014. Y/y rate of growth in Dublin house prices fell from 21.7% in January to 21.1% in February, although over the last 24 months hose prices in Dublin are still up cumulatively 37.6% (+17.3% annualised). 
  • Apartments prices in Dublin rose in index terms to 72.2 in February from 70.8 in January, erasing the declines that took place during Q3-Q4 2014. Cumulated gains in Dublin apartments prices over the last 24 months stand at 37.5% (+17.3% annualised) and y/y prices are up 24.5% - the fastest growth rate in 3 months.
Few charts to illustrate the above trends:

 Lastly, summary of price changes on pre-crisis peak and y/y:

Despite all the talk about the new bubble in house prices in Ireland, three themes remain true:
  1. Property prices are still far below fundamentals-justified levels. In Dublin, undershooting of long-run (inflation-linked) prices is around 26-27%.
  2. Property price increases are worryingly high, especially in the Dublin segment, warranting some ongoing concern; and
  3. Moderation in property prices and downward correction over the last two months, driven by Dublin (but likely to translate into similar outside Dublin with a lag), predicted on this blog before, is a welcome change. However, I suspect we will see renewed increases in property prices later this year, albeit at rates more sustainable in the longer run.