LAST week’s Daft.ie Report for the third quarter shows a different pattern between the housing market in Dublin and the rest of the country.
The year-on-year change in asking prices in South County Dublin is just -2% (compared to -20% or more in a couple of counties and -14% on average). Approximately half of all properties are now sold or sale-agreed within three months in the capital (compared to one quarter or one third elsewhere in the country). Indeed, the supply of properties in Dublin has somewhat dried up - the total stock in the capital on 1 August 2012 was lower than at any point since March 2007. Outside the capital city and urban areas the situation is different, and indeed Munster (outside of the cities) has experienced its largest average quarterly fall since Daft.ie records begun.
Of course, one of the remarkable things about housing debates today is the prevalence of economic analysis, usually based on charts and graphs (which may be indeed accurate) followed by commentary from housing market apologists. Housing discourse, in the main, in Ireland, is dominated by this economic “science”, venerated by the mass media. The use of trends and graphs to explain and predict the future development of the housing system appears almost divine, in the absence of other prophets. All future possibilities are known and predictable. Contemporary economic consensus (even after the comments in the Nyberg Report of the group-think in Ireland) still revolves around a few factors and indicators. This meta-narrative, based on international neo-liberal economics, sets the boundaries of the public and indeed political discourse.
Of course, we know that the number of circumstances where we can make such predictions are quite limited and often based on highly precarious implied but seldom acknowledged assumptions. Clearly, housing markets do not suddenly emerge and operate according to (first year) economic textbook models, tending towards market equilibrium. Indeed, housing market activity in owned and rented housing forms a very small part of the overall operation of the housing system.
Aside from hallowed predictions of housing market trends, the other side of Irish housing portrayed in the media involves sensational accounts of poor housing, homelessness and the awfulness of life on social housing estates.