MIRROR on the CITY IN DUBLIN: Housing Prices 'Face Slowdown' SHORTAGE CURED BY BUILDING

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Byline: CHRIS PARKIN

HOUSE price increases will slow this year - according to a leading Irish economist.

Bank of Ireland Group Treasury specialist Dan McLaughlin's prediction runs counter to the views of other economists, who say the property boom can survive Ireland's economic downturn.

But McLaughlin believes the phenomenal pace of house building in recent years has contributed to a broad equilibrium in the market.

In his company's quarterly Irish Property Review, he said 2003 would see only a relatively modest five per cent growth in the cost of second-hand houses this year - and little or no rise in new-house prices.

At the same time, the report made it clear the residential property market would remain buoyant, with mortgage lending topping the EUR12.5 billion mark, an increase of 20 per cent on the record levels set last year.

Mr McLaughlin said 57,000 new houses were built in 2002, with a further 60,000 due to be completed this year.

He argued a perceived crisis in the housing sector had abated. …