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Irish House Prices Halt Decline for First Time Since August 2010

Irish home prices were unchanged in March from the previous month, the first time since August 2010 that values failed to decline, the statistics office said.

From a year earlier, values were down 16.3 percent in March, and prices have dropped 49 percent since peaking in 2007, the Central Statistics Office in Cork said on its website today. In Dublin, property prices rose 0.7 percent in March from the previous month, the first increase since May 2011.

Ireland’s decade-long housing bubble burst in 2008, helping to plunge the country into the worst recession in its modern history. The unemployment rate has tripled since then and the country sought an international aid package in 2010. Home prices could fall 70 percent from their 2007 peak, Dublin-based securities firm Davy said last month.

“Monthly price data can be volatile,” Glas Securities, a Dublin-based fixed-income firm, said in a note today. “Nevertheless, today’s release will be welcomed. Forthcoming price data will be closely monitored to establish if these figures mark the early stages of a stabilisation.”

From a year earlier, residential property prices in Dublin fell 18.3 percent, bringing the fall since 2007 to 57 percent the CSO said. Excluding Dublin, Irish home values fell 0.6 percent in March from the prior month and were down 15.5 percent from a year earlier.

About 14 percent of private home mortgages in Ireland were either more than 90 days in arrears or had been restricted at the end of 2011, according to the country’s central bank.

To contact the reporter on this story: Colm Heatley in Belfast at cheatley@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Douglas Lytle at dlytle@bloomberg.net;

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