The surprising resilience of the property market during the coronavirus pandemic

When the coronavirus insinuated itself into Irish society back in March 2020 I happened to be doing a YouTube live around that time. A frequent question that I was asked from viewers was what was my view of the property market for the remainder of the year.

And I answered honestly when I said the only effect I could see would inevitably be a negative one. It was difficult to see anything else.

This was based on the number of persons being laid off from work, the uncertain prognosis for the economy given the expected adverse effects of the coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic, the number of queries I was receiving from employers and employees about how to carry out redundancies correctly, the closing of building sites along with other workplaces, and the introduction by the lending banks of conditions into loan offers which dealt with the effects of Covid 19 on the applicants certainty of income.

But I was wrong.

The Irish residential property market has shown a great degree of resilience and has been ticking over smoothly right up to the time I write this article on 17th October 2020. And even with a further lockdown looming to try to arrest the worrying growth in coronavirus case numbers I am still receiving a good deal of enquiries with ongoing purchases and sales going ahead as usual.

People in public service jobs, such as teachers, health workers, emergency personnel, are working away and have secure jobs. These are the types of individuals the lenders love on account of the certainty of income until retirement or a voluntary move to a more attractive position.

Then there is a large number of employees working as normal from home. This group would include well paid professionals working in tech or finance companies who can carry on virtually as normal working from home.

For many people the coronavirus pandemic is a disaster in many different ways, not least from an income and finance perspective. But there is a large chunk of the workforce who have been in the fortunate position of being able to adapt and carry on in the new, changed circumstances.

This group are underpinning the surprising normality that I am witnessing in the property market. Perhaps the restraint that was put on construction activity, and the knock on effect on supply of housing units, on account of the closing down of building sites during the first lockdown is a factor, too.

Economists might be better able to explain these factors to you.

All I can do is comment on what I observe on a weekly basis in my solicitor’s practice and I have been pleasantly surprised by what I have seen to date in the property market.