Category Archives: Irish property prices

18/2/20: Irish Statistics: Fake News and Housing Markets

My latest column for The Currency covers the less-public stats behind the Irish housing markets:

Key takeaways:
"Irish voters cast a protest vote against the parties that led the government over the last eight years – a vote that just might be divorced from ideological preferences for overarching policy philosophy."

"The drivers of this protest vote have been predominantly based on voters’ understanding of the socio-economic reality that is totally at odds with the official statistics. In a way, Irish voters have chosen not to trust the so-called fake data coming out of the mainstream, pro-government analysis and media. The fact that this has happened during the time when the Irish economy is commonly presented as being in rude health, with low unemployment, rapid headline growth figures and healthy demographics is not the bug, but a central feature of Ireland’s political system."

Stay tuned for subsequent analysis of other economic statistics for Ireland in the next article.

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.

13/11/15: Dublin: Overpriced Office Space is Back… Any Wonder?

A neat set of charts from Knight Frank report showing commercial real estate mapping of Dublin relative to other European cities

To start with: returns over 10 years to December 2014:

Here are some more charts

The key point from the above is that historical valuations for Dublin property have been distorted to the upside by the pre-2008 boom, whilst subsequent collapse has driven prices back to below their fundamentals-determined valuations. However, forward expectations by the markets participants are now pricing in a significant medium- to long-term rebound in commercial property rents and values that are implying fundamentals well ahead of anything consistent with the ‘normal’ 4.5-5 percent yields. In other words, we are heading toward 2-2.5 percent yields, assuming current trends persist, or into another correction downward.

Absent robust supply increases, the former is more likely than the latter. With rates normalisation still some time away, the former is also more likely than the latter. And the longer the former goes on, the bigger will be the latter, eventually.

These dynamics, in return, underpin also residential markets, where credit supply tightness in house purchasing sector is pushing rents up to stratospheric levels, with rents currently in excess of October 2008 levels.

Welcome to the economy where largest land-owner - Nama - thinks developers are only good to attend horse races.

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.