Thursday, 29 June 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
28. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the recent trend of house prices in Dublin and the comparative national figures; the measures he has considered to address the Dublin issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18567/00]
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Molloy): My Department's latest house price data for the March quarter 2000 reveal that new house prices rose by just 1.6% nationally on the December 1999 quarter average, while second-hand house prices were down 0.3% over the same period. The March quarter figures for Dublin are showing reductions of 1.1% and 2.7% in the average prices for both new and second-hand homes respectively.
Year-on-year house price increases – March 2000 compared with March 1999 prices – are also lower than in previous quarters. Nationally, new and second-hand house prices rose by 13% and 14% on the same period last year, the lowest increases since 1996. In Dublin, annual increases of 13% and 17% have been recorded, both significantly down on 12 month increases to December 1999, of the order of 22%. Typical first-time buyer prices are generally around 25% to 30% below the overall average house price, with new houses averaging £99,600 nationally and £126,400 in Dublin in 1999, while second-hand prices were £102,700 and £130,000, respectively.
The Government has introduced a wide range of measures, most recently in its policy document, Action on Housing, to increase the supply of serviced land and housing generally through fast tracking of developments and targeted investment in key infrastructural projects, discourage speculative property investment and strengthen the position of first-time purchasers, increase the supply of social and affordable housing to meet rising housing needs, and improve the institutional arrangements to facilitate the delivery of housing related infrastructure and thereby increase overall housing supply.
Measures to significantly increase affordability especially for first-time buyers include measures to increase significantly the overall supply of houses; revised stamp duty thresholds and rates to ease the burden on first-time purchasers, improve their position in relation to existing owner occupiers and investors, measures to discourage speculative demand, especially at the lower end of the market, and significant improvements to the eligibility criteria under the shared ownership and the affordable housing schemes.
A co-ordinating housing supply unit has been established in my Department to ensure urgent and effective delivery of supply measures, to address any infrastructural bottlenecks, and to liaise with the Dublin local authorities' strategic  response team established by the Dublin city and county managers.
The Government is committing substantial additional resources to housing and housing-related infrastructural development, over and above that which has been committed in the national development plan and the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. These further measures provide a comprehensive and coherent response to growing housing need.
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