The worst may be over in the property market with the first monthly increase in property prices in almost five years, according to new government figures.

New data from the Central Statistics Office show that in the year to May, residential property prices has still fallen, but the month on month figures showed a marginal increase, indicating the market may be bottoming out, according to economists.

Over all house prices in Dublin are now 55% lower than at their peak in early 2007, while apartments in the capital are 61% down, pushing the overall price crash in the capital to 57%.

The fall across the rest of the country is lower at 47%, but still indicative of one of the worst property crashes in global history.

Month on month residential property prices rose bby 0.2% in May, the third consecutive monthly increase.

Across the rest of the country, prices were up by 0.1%, statistically insignificant, but an encouraging sign, says Alan McQuaid, economist at Merrion Stockbrokers.

But he says the figures should not be seen as green shoots as the labour market conditions remain fragile.

“The jobless rate is now close to 15% and appears to be going in the wrong direction according to the most recent Quarterly National Houshold Survey. We don’t see a major improvement in the housing market until there is clear evidence that the jobless rate has peaked and is on a downward trend.

“That said, the May house price data are a step in the right direction and suggest the worst may be over,” Mr McQuaid added.