Thursday, April 7, 2011

Transparent house price index? Maybe, but not until 2012 - The Irish Times - This needs to happen sooner than later, IMHO!

PLANS for a national house-price database are still stumbling slowly forward after the Department of Justice told the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter that restoring the Property Services (Regulation) Bill would enable its enactment.

It will allow the publication of residential property prices and a database of rents in the commercial sector.

The Government’s summer legislative programme lists it as awaiting Oireachtas committee discussions, so it will be the end of the year at the earliest before this could be passed.

A house-price database would not involve major changes or a large amount of additional work for public servants.

The Property Registration Authority (PRA), which combines the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds, already gathers the information on individual house-sale prices because the fees paid to it for such registrations are based on the price paid for a property.

The PRA has been one of the more innovative areas of the public service, through the use of online services and eConveyancing, and it would be easy for the authority to set up a database showing the average price for a three-bedroom house or a two-bedroom apartment in a particular area.

After all, the information’s already available to it.

While full disclosure of prices would be welcomed, the legislation needed to do this would have to override privacy issues relating to personal information, and it’s difficult to imagine lobby groups, such as farmers, agreeing to this.

The Department of Environment was more casual on the issue of the house-price database, omitting it from its briefing notes drawn up for its new minister, Phil Hogan.

The Property Services Bill will also regulate auctioneers, letting and property managements, and would finally allow the Property Services Regulatory Authority, which is unrelated to the PRA, to do this. It’s been operating on an interim basis for four years.

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