Asking prices for houses that were for sale here in May rose by an average of 3.7%, regaining the 5.5% of lost ground in April, according to new data released by property website Daft.ie.

Average rents sought by landlords also rose 0.6% last month, the website's latest Housing Market Report says, with the average monthly rent being sought across the country now standing at €1,398.

This is 0.7% higher than at the same time last year, although in Dublin rents were unchanged over that period and in Connacht-Ulster they were 1.7% lower.

"The latest figures from the housing market shows clear differences in how sale and rental markets are responding," said Ronan Lyons, Trinity College Dublin economist and author of the Daft report.

"Sale markets have been more volatile, something to be expected given the role confidence plays in making a home purchase. Rental markets have been steadier but are also pointing to lower rental levels."

In relation to the asking prices for the purchase of homes, these are now lower than a year ago in all parts of the country except Leinster, excluding Dublin.

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In the Leinster counties, asking prices remain 2.1% above levels seen 12 months ago.

In contrast, average listed prices in Munster during May were 5.7% lower than a year ago.

When it comes to the availability of homes, there were 22% fewer homes for sale at the start of June across the country than at the same time in 2019.

But the rental market saw a slight increase of 6% in the number of properties available in May.

Dublin saw a huge jump in new supply of rental property, up 40%, but across the rest of Ireland supply dropped.

"As the economy begins to open up again after the Covid-19 lockdown, it remains to be seen the extent of the damage, in particular in the numbers out of work," said Mr Lyons.

"Ireland's ability to get back to work and to reconnect with the rest of the world economy will be critical in restoring a healthy level of housing demand. Nonetheless, huge underlying supply shortages remain, in particular homes for renters in Ireland's main cities."

Commenting on the report, the Irish Property Owners' Association said the rental business has been substantially disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

It said a lot of tenants returned home in March at the start of lockdown and tenancies were terminated and in some cases abandoned.

"The lockdown restricted re-letting and in spite of demand being high, Government guidelines restricted the showing of property as it was not deemed an essential service," said IPOA Chairman Stephen Faughnan.

"This is likely to have resulted in properties not being let during the month of May. Student accommodation became vacant earlier than usual in March and traditionally some students working in the hospitality industry would have remained in accommodation."

But the IPOA said it also expects the market to pick up as the economy reopens and that massive reductions in the amount of accommodation available could arise.

The Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers said the fluctuations in the market would appear to indicate that, provided the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic do not prove to be too severe on the economy in general, the housing market is likely to be more stable over the course of the next 12 to 18 months than many had thought.

"From day one of this pandemic we've said Covid-19 would have little effect on prices and now given feedback from auctioneers it would appear that the recent projections that house valuations would plunge are wide of the mark", said Pat Davitt, Chief Executive of IPAV.

But he also warned that the behaviour of lenders could impact the ability of first-time buyers to acquire homes, and that could adversely impact the market, with a knock-on effect on confidence among builders.