There was a 71% increase in the number of rental properties coming on the market in central Dublin in the past five weeks compared to the same period last year, according to property website Daft.ie.

Between 13 March and 16 April, there were 964 rental listings in central Dublin, compared to 563 last year. 

However, the figures show that while there was a big increase in rental listings in central Dublin, outside the capital the number of properties available for rent fell by 25%. 

Ronan Lyons, an economist at Trinity College Dublin, said this suggests that the increase in properties available in central Dublin is a result of short term lets like Airbnb coming onto the long-term market and not necessarily due to migrants or students moving home. 

"If it was students you would see it around UCD and DCU as well as central Dublin and this is not really showing up in the data. What is showing up is there is an increase in rental listings typically where you would see short term lets." 

Mr Lyons also said there has been a huge fall off in the number of properties being put up for sale. 

"If you look at the week starting 5 April there was an 80% fall in the number of listings in 2020 compared 2019. 

"With the exception of the central Dublin rental market the rest of the property market is slowing down because [the] day-to-day life of being able to go and see a property is more complicated now people are putting things off and hoping things pick up in the near future." 

The Covid-19 crisis has put the brakes on the Irish property market as selling and buying of property has effectively been put on ice. 

Experts say the market had been making a strong recovery in the first quarter of this year as fears around Brexit abated. 

However, the property market is largely based on consumer confidence which has plunged since the pandemic hit. 

Spokesperson for the Real Estate Agency Barry McDonald said the Covid-19 crisis has pushed the pause button on the buying and selling of property. 

"We are in uncharted territory, no one knows how this will affect the market. Obviously if we can come out of this in the short term the expectation is that we should return to reasonably back to where we are at." 

However, he said confidence is low and in some cases buyers are pulling out of deals that had been agreed. 

"By and large buyers going ahead with deals that were agreed but in some scenarios, buyers are pulling out due to concerns about their own jobs or the wider economy. We have also experienced others looking to renegotiate the price." 

Orla Hegarty, from the School of Architecture in UCD, saids there is less money and less confidence in the market so inevitably prices will drop. 

"Bear in mind that the crisis was much more than an affordability crisis than a supply crisis. Prices are coming down is a good thing, it's just happened faster and harder than anticipated." 

Meanwhile, lecturer in Housing at the Technological University Dublin and Property Expert Lorcan Sirr said many people will be rethinking their plans to move and to sell in light of future unemployment vulnerability.

He also said banks will be more cautious about who they give mortgages to. 

"Banks will also start to tighten up on mortgage lending for the same reasons they don't know which of their applicants will have a job in six months' time. 

"Every cloud has as silver lining for some people there will be opportunities in the market, if you are a cash buyer in the market then that is always an opportunity for purchasers in the market." 

He said that if there is a downturn in the property market the Government must put measures in place to ensure investment funds cannot buy up property. 

"The last time we had an economic rash and prices plummeted we saw vulture funds snap up housing at discounted rates and then sell them, essentially profiteering on the back of an economic crisis. We have to make sure that the same degree of profiteering doesn't happen at the expense of Irish people again." 

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 crisis has also triggered a demand for virtual viewings and many auctioneers have been changing how they operate.

Auctioneer Michael O'Connor is holding national auctions every month online and said it is an eight week process for vendors from advertising to the closing of the sale and contracts can be downloaded by purchaser's solicitors and signed online. 

 Mr O'Connor said: "This was originally set up for receivers and banks and now we are looking at vendors and private owners as well and the main reason is we are giving them national coverage but we will use a local agent on the ground. 

"The old traditional way I'm a big fan of it but the property market hasn't moved with the times and now is the opportunity to do that."