A Database of Property Prices?
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A Database of Property Prices?

The value of an object is intrinsically linked to what someone is prepared to pay for it. As such, one man's dirt may be another man's gold and the 'value' of a property can vary wildly between what two different people are prepared to pay for it. Therefore, valuations are often subjective, open to debate or argument and as such they can be difficult to achieve consensus on. In essence, valuations of a property's worth are essentially educated opinions, not hard market facts.

In Ireland, property is usually advertised with an 'Asking Price' attached which may bear no resemblance to the final selling price or 'value' of the property. Several bidders may be interested in the property which may push its value above the asking price or maybe only one person bid and bought the property for a value less than the asking price. 



The issue of valuations is made more difficult in Ireland because the general public do not have access to any database of property prices which shows what properties have sold for in any given area. In comparison, banks, auctioneers, solicitors or engineers may all retain their own databases gleaned from involvement in property which allows them more accurately value a property than a member of the general public.



There has been a lot of debate over the lack of such a database of house prices in Ireland in recent years. Buyers have often been frustrated at the lack of information which would allow them make a realistic comparison or offer for a property based on what similar properties may have sold for. Neither is it unknown for an Auctioneer to value a property only to be told by a Seller that the value is far too low, based on what the neighbour 'Mrs. Smith' told them her house sold for down the road. While the Auctioneer may know that Mrs. Smith achieved nowhere near the price she claimed to have received, data protection laws bar them from releasing this information to the Seller who is now misguided by her neighbour as to the true value of her property. Likewise, it is not unknown for an auctioneer to overvalue a property based on past prices which may no longer hold true, rather than current market conditions.


In all cases - buyer, seller and auctioneer - a public database of property prices would eradicate much of the doubt that exists in people's minds over the true value of a property.


 Given the concern over privacy intrusions, neither would such a database have to specify the prices achieved for a particular house on a particular street in order to be effective. Given that rows of houses in a particular estate or street are often of the same type, average house prices for streets or estates could be given on a publicly accessible database which would allow for confidentiality to be retained.

Also possible would be the price per square foot achieved for property on a given street, allowing purchasers and sellers calculate individual valuations for property they are interested in by using average per square foot prices multiplied by the size of the property they are calculating. Again, this system would provide anonymity with regards to the individual prices achieved whilst allowing the relevant data to be accessed by the public.


In the absence of a national database of property prices in whatever guise it may eventually be created, more traditional forms of valuation are still possible. 


Please see here for a short guide to valuation methods. 

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