2021 was a roller coaster and started with Dublin in a level 5 lockdown and a restriction on property viewings. Given this, market activity was a fraction of normal levels and our transactions were 40% lower year on year. We saw a pickup in activity in March when it became obvious lockdown measures were to be extended from a cohort of buyers who simply had to buy. Many agreed sales without physically visiting the property out of pure necessity because they had sold their existing property or were overseas and unable to travel to Ireland.
The welcome return of inhouse viewings in April led to the unleashing of pent-up demand, that had built up since the end of last year, at the exact moment there was an historically low supply of property for sale. This supply and demand mismatch created a seller’s market with our average selling prices 7% above asking. At the upper end of the market some houses in turn-key condition were selling as much as 20% above asking and in a matter of weeks. This demand was driven by the desire for more space, Irish families returning home from overseas; their return accelerated by the pandemic, non-Irish technology executives buying instead of renting, and early inheritance where parents are providing their children with large deposits so they can bridge the affordability gap. A new trend we witnessed was wealthy Irish families buying second homes in Dublin who accounted for over 20% of our buyers. More than half our buyers required no mortgage funding whatsoever.
In the autumn there was a welcome pickup in supply. Our average selling prices were 0.88% above asking prices compared to over 7% in the previous quarter suggesting price inflation is moderating. The apartment market lagged the suburban housing market since the start of the pandemic, but our data confirmed a significant increase in enquiries and demand for our apartment listings as Dublin city centre finally reopened. After a challenging first half of the year, there was renewed interest from both investors and owner occupiers for apartments in the Docklands, especially for larger apartments and penthouses.
As the year ends, there is still very strong demand for family houses in turn-key condition close to amenities. Overall, demand was strongest in the market up to €400,000 from first time buyers and at the luxury end of the market. A worrying trend in the rental market is the number of small landlords selling who accounted for over 60% of our sellers. With rental demand back to pre-pandemic levels, this depletion in rental accommodation will deepen the accommodation crisis in Dublin before the anticipated reopening of offices next year.
Prices will rise next year but how much will be dictated on how the pandemic is managed, interest rates and the supply of properties coming to market.