New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that residential property prices rose by 7.8% in the year to March.

But residential property prices fell by 0.7% in March compared to February. Prices had fallen in January, and had risen slightly in February. 

The CSO figures show that residential property prices in Dublin were unchanged in March from the previous month and were 14.3% higher than the same time last year. 

The price of homes outside of Dublin fell by 1.6% in March, while they were 2.9% higher than the same time last year.

Even with the pick-up in house prices over the last year or so, Dublin house prices are still 48.3% lower than at their highest level in early 2007.

Residential property prices for the whole of the country remain 47% off their peak of seven years ago.

Analysts said the underlying housing market is a lot stronger than the official data would suggest as the CSO figures are based on mortgage draw-downs and do not give a true sense of what is going on in the property market because they exclude cash transactions. 

It is believed that cash buyers account for around half of activity at the moment. 

Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said that the overall pick-up in the housing market has been quicker and more sustained than had been expected and there was an average rise in house prices (1.8%) in 2013 for the first time in six years.

"The recent signs of general improvement in the labour market, as evidenced by this morning’s latest Live Register data should boost disposable incomes and help sustain the housing market recovery in the short-term, especially in Dublin and the other major cities," the economist said. 

"But longer-term it will come down to credit supply/demand. However, as regards this year, we see an average rise in Irish house prices of around 6%, with Dublin posting the biggest increase, of 10% plus," he added.