The residential property market is now at its lowest level for a first quarter since 2017, while sales in six counties in Leinster down by at least 6% compared with the same time last year, a new study shows. 

The study, based on an analysis of residential property sales recorded in the Property Price Register, was carried out by property website MyHome.ie.

It shows that the number of sales nationwide was down by 4.6% to 11,161 in the first quarter of 2020 compared to 11,702 sales the same quarter the year before. 

MyHome.is said these figures are the lowest since the first quarter of 2017, when 11,053 units were sold.

The analysis also shows mixed results in urban centres. It noted a fall in activity in Dublin, with the number of sales in the capital dipping by 7.2% to 3,482 sales compared to 3,751 sales last year.

Sales were also much lower in Wexford (down 17.8%), Louth (down 12.3%), Kilkenny (down 15.2%) and Kildare (down 16%). 

But Limerick sales rose by 7.2% to 434 sales in the first quater of 2020 compared to 405 sales in the same time last year, while Monaghan sales jumped 28.6% and Westmeath sales were up 13.4%

13 counties reported a fall in sales figures, eight counties experienced rises and five counties (Galway, Kerry, Mayo, Offaly and Waterford) were flat.

Dublin, which makes up almost a third of sales in the property market here, recorded 3,482 sales in the first three months of 2020. 

It was followed by Cork with 1,267 sales, and Kildare with 567. The counties with the lowest number of sales were Leitrim with 89 sales, Monaghan on 90, and Longford on 91.

Angela Keegan, Managing Director of MyHome.ie, said that Covid-19 had negated any potential bounce-back in activity following the Brexit uncertainty of last year.

But Ms Keegan welcomed the fact that construction work would be resuming soon. 

"Brexit uncertainty had a significant effect on sales activity in late 2019, something which was apparent into the new year. This was compounded by Covid-19 at the start of March, just when we thought we would see an increase in sales," she said. 

The Government's roadmap for the easing of Covid-19 restrictions states that construction workers can resume work from May 18. 

"This clarity is welcome as the longer we wait for construction to resume, the greater the fall-off in new homes will be which is something the market can ill-afford at present," Ms Keegan said.