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BUSINESS NEWS JAN 22, 2008
Due to a technical problem on Wednesday Jan 16, we are upgrading the news management system by a Canadian software company, which will be completed in coming days.

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Irish House Industry survey says about 40,000 apartments in Dublin are vacant

With an estimated 10,000 unsold new apartments in the Dublin area, builders are opting to rent them out rather than try to sell them. The former gasholder at Ringsend is one of a number of newly built apartment buildings in Dublin that is lying empty as developers adopt a wait-and-see approach in the ailing new homes market.

The owner of the apartments within the former gasholder structure has been seeking to convert the building to either to a hotel or hospital.

House prices in Dublin fell by 10 per cent on average last year, and estate agents forecast a further decline of about 4 per cent in 2008.

Apartment owners fared even worse, with the price of second-hand apartments in the capital falling by as much as 17 per cent.

There are about 40,000 vacant apartments in Dublin which are "causing concern that prices have some way to correct before activity is restored and prices are stabilised," according to the annual price survey of the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute (IAVI).

It was reported last November that there are 10,000 new vacant apartments in Dublin.

The report has not been uploaded on the IAVI website.

Price falls reported by IAVI members effectively wiped out all the gains made by the market in 2006.

House prices in Dublin fell by 10 per cent on average in 2007 and estate agents forecast a further fall of about 4 per cent in 2008.

Apartment owners fared even worse, with the price of second-hand apartments in the capital falling by as much as 17 per cent.

Activity levels in Dublin dropped by between 15 and 60 per cent, depending on the market segment.

Aside from apartments, prices for homes at the higher end of the Dublin market - between €4 million and €7 million - fell 20 per cent in 2007.

The report says that "members are unanimous in agreeing that this reflects a correction of unrealistic price levels during 2006".

Estate agents from outside Dublin also reported that prices did not fall as badly as in the capital.

The value of residential sites dropped by between 10 and 15 per cent outside Dublin, and by 16 to 19 per cent in the capital.

Rents, however, continued to rise, according to the IAVI data, increasing by between 3.3 and 4.2 per cent across the country.

IAVI president Robert Ganly commented: "Overall, I would say to people that the market is beginning to stabilise. The worst is over."

He said that the absence of further rises in interest rates and the reformed stamp duty regime to provide some support, alongside "strong latent demand from young couples who put off purchasing in 2007".

While prices would continue to fall in 2008, "this levelling off should begin to reverse itself in early 2009, and we would hope to see the property market growing again some time during that year".

However, the report says investors are likely to be more cautious about re-entering the market, limiting growth rates in prices in the immediate future.

Ganly said the impact of the Government's stamp duty reforms had yet to be felt.

"We feel that these will have a measurable, positive impact on the residential market, although there is more that the Government could do to help other sectors," he said.

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