New database should make property market more transparent

A long-awaited property price database is expected to be up and running once legislation is enacted later this year, and will include the sale prices of individual properties rather than average house prices in an area, the Department of Justice has confirmed.

The register, which is seen as a key factor in providing greater transparency in the property market, may also be backdated to include prices previously achieved.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, which is overseeing the establishment of the database, told the Sunday Tribune that it would "at the outset at least" cover only residential property.

While the exact details of how the database will operate are currently being worked out, she said it could be published on a weekly basis.

It will be run by the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) and is expected to use information on house sale prices which is already supplied to the Revenue Commissioners by solicitors on a regular basis.

"The database will comprise sale prices of individual properties. The importance of providing up-to-date data is recognised so the intention is that the PSRA will get this information on a very frequent basis, possibly weekly, from the Revenue Commissioners," she said.

"Minister [Dermot] Ahern intends to table amendments to the Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009 and any necessary amendments to the Data Protection Acts to give the Property Services Regulatory Authority power to publish property sale prices during the next Dáil session."

A spokesman for the Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes said he would be "very surprised" if the introduction of the database required a change to the existing data protection legislation.

This was because there is already a clause in the current legislation which permitted the Oireachtas to decide whether it wanted to make certain types of information available.