The effect of the banking collapse on the Irish property market is finally coming into focus - and thanks to a new database, the public will learn just how much local properties have been selling for.
Punters who have long suspected that Irish house prices are even lower than reported will be able to satisfy their curiosity when the true prices are unveiled within the coming months.
The new property database, due to go online by June, will provide the date of the sales and the final selling price on all properties sold since January 2010 and the effort is being hailed as an attempt by the Irish government to revive the collapsed property market.
Until now the best estimates have been produced by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) which compile their lists based on the mortgages taken out - but these statistics do not include cash sales.
To that end, the Irish public has had to rely solely on the word of estate agents and property websites, both notoriously subjective appraisers.
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Now the new organization, titled the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA), will obtain the information on the final selling price of houses directly from the Revenue department, the most exacting appraisers on record. By law, the Revenue obtains the value of every house sold from solicitors within 30 days of the transaction to determine whether stamp duty is owed.
Chief executive of PSRA Tom Lynch told the Herald that when it came to valuations the Irish propertymarket was 'a little bit of a lottery.' The new database would give people more accurate information about every property in the country for the first time, he said.
Critics of the new index are worried that it could potentially be used by people curious to see the price of their neighbor's just sold property. Lynch admits that is a potential abuse that has some grounds, because it is not possible for individuals to 'opt out' of the House Price Register since legislation passed last November mandates that all sales prices to be published by law. Even the prices of houses which were sold prior to January 2010 will eventually become available on the index.
'I would hope in time to go further and link it to whether they are semi-detached properties, detached properties, rural or urban,' Lynch added. With help from the new index, the public will be able to see the price and location of the properties and by using easily available internet sites like Google Maps will even show them the present appearance of many of the listed properties.