Covid-19 had caused a 21% decline in property transactions across the country in the 12 months to last November, a new reports shows. 

The latest GeoView Residential Buildings Report, published by GeoDirectory and EY-DKM, shows a total of 35,542 residential property transactions across the State were agreed - a drop of 21.1% compared to the previous year. 

A decline in purchasing activity was recorded in every county, with Dublin experiencing the sharpest drop in absolute terms, down 3,981 transactions year-on-year, the report reveals. 

Of the transactions, only 18.9% were classified as newly built dwellings. 

A total of 21,851 new residential address points were added to the GeoDirectory database in 2020, an increase of 7.3% compared to 2019. 

51.8% of the new address points were located in the Greater Dublin Area of Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow, with 33.1% of the total located in Dublin itself. 

Leitrim (82), Longford (82) and Sligo (130) were the counties that recorded the fewest additions to the database.

According to today's report, the average residential property price in Ireland in the 12 months to November stood at €294,184, a fall of 0.7% year-on-year. 

When Dublin is removed from the national average, the average residential property price was €231,549.  

Unsurprisingly, the highest residential property prices were found in Dublin, with an average price of €442,711. This was an increase of 0.8% compared to the equivalent 2019 figure. 

Wicklow (€381,441) and Kildare (€318,744) were the only other counties in which the average property price exceeded the national average.  

The lowest average property prices were located in Longford (€122,989), Leitrim (€126,316), and Roscommon (€128,920). 

GeoDirectory said that despite significant disruption to the construction sector last year due to Covid-19, a healthy pipeline of construction activity remains. 

It noted that 16,735 residential buildings were under construction in Ireland in December 2020, representing a 11.6% increase on the same time in 2019. 

Of those buildings under construction, the highest number were found in Dublin (2,737). However, this figure for the capital is down 34.1% on December 2019 levels.  

Dara Keogh, chief executive of GeoDirectory said today's report shows that prospective buyers and sellers have held off on activity in 2020, resulting in significantly fewer transactions.

But he noted that a certain level of demand has remained, which meant that house prices held firm across the country. 

"Despite a temporary restriction on construction activity in 2020, there was a high level of residential buildings under construction in December 2020. It remains to be seen what impact the current restrictions on construction activity will have on this pipeline of new builds in 2021," Mr Keogh added. 

Annette Hughes, Director of EY-DKM Economic Advisory, said the core challenge for the housing sector now is maintaining growth against the background of Covid-19. 

Ms Hughes said the risk is that prolonged lockdown restrictions, which re-started in January, will slow the construction sector further. 

"Meanwhile with the level of household deposits up by €13.5 billion (14.4%) since the start of the pandemic, the expectation is that this elevated level of savings will support the economic recovery and housing market transactions post Covid-19," she said.

"Thus, it is imperative that the focus remains firmly on improving housing supply to avoid house price inflation," she added.

GeoDirectory was jointly established by An Post and Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) to create and manage the country's only complete database of commercial and residential buildings. 

The figures are recorded through a combination of the An Post network of 5,600 delivery staff working with OSi.