First-time buyers, encouraged by the easing of the Central Bank’s restrictions on mortgage deposit lending, will drive a rise of 8% in house prices in Cork county throughout 2017.

This is the result of a survey carried out by the Real Estate Alliance Group which has shown agents expect prices in the county to continue to rise after the 11% growth experienced in 2016.

The Q4 REA Average House Price Survey revealed that prices in the county had increased by €13,500 over the past year – with the average three-bed semi now costing €135,000.

The biggest percentage increases over the past year came in the country’s smaller rural towns situated outside of Dublin, the commuter belt and the major cities.

Prices here rose by an average of 12.3% over the year, with a three-bed semi now costing €134,290 – an increase of 2.4% in the past three months.

“The announcement of the easing of the Central Bank restrictions has given the market great short-term hope, but the real problem in the property lies in supply,” said REA chairman Eamonn Spratt.

“We are bringing people into the market, but we have no long-term plan to provide the suitable housing that they need around the country. The fact remains that builders will not create developments unless those properties can be sold for more than €200,000.