Unwanted Christmas presents are worth €64 million

About €64 million worth of unwanted gifts are gathering dust beneath Irish Christmas trees, according to a survey by online marketing website eBay.ie.

The survey found that the average Irish person received one unwanted gift per year, valued at €50. People received an average of seven gifts and spent €312 on others this Christmas.

Three in ten Irish people will ‘‘regift’’ their unwanted items to others, while 13 per cent intend to sell their unwanted gifts.

Switch-to-save Reminder

Households can save up to €100 a month by switching service provider, according to figures from cost comparison website Bonkers.ie.

‘‘Between the recent budget and seasonal spending sprees, Irish families are looking at a very lean January," said David Kerr, managing director of Bonkers.ie.

‘‘We are encouraging households to claw back some cash by identifying the best deals on essential services, such as gas, electricity, broadband, phones and financial services."

According to the website’s figures, switching gas supplier could generate savings of €10 per month, while opting for a different credit card provider could save up to €24 per month.

Bonkers.ie also advises consumers to switch to a no-fee current account and save up to €72 per year. 

The website also suggests that bundling home communication services, such as broadband and a home phone line, could save an additional €20.

The website advises consumers to take stock of their electricity bills, mobile phone contracts and savings accounts to ensure they maximise their monthly income.

New account draws customers

One in ten people opening a regular savings account with Bank of Ireland is opting for its new ‘save to borrow’ account.

The account, launched eight weeks ago, is designed to help customers establish a savings habit and support future borrowing.

There is no commitment to borrow, but customers who save for 12months can apply to borrow up to five times their regular savings, up to €25,000.

‘‘Regular savings accounts are the bank’s most popular savings vehicle," said Mark Kelly, deposit product manager at Bank of Ireland.

‘‘Recent research we conducted showed that holiday, car and general ‘emergency fund’ requirements were the most popular motivating factors for saving - but house deposits, education and special occasions were also cited as reasons to begin building up a lump-sum."

He said most regular savers put away between €200 and €250 a month.

Property prices on the slide

Property prices fell by 13.1 per cent last year, according to the latest barometer from property website MyHome.ie.

A 3.2 per cent drop in property prices in the fourth quarter of last year brought the total decline from the peak of the market in late 2006 to 34.6 per cent.

The average price for a home nationally is now €271,000, down from €312,000 a year ago.

Angela Keegan, managing director of MyHome.ie, said 2010 had been a very challenging year for the property market, but the fall in prices had not been as severe as in 2009.

‘‘The decline in prices in quarter four was the lowest since the first half of 2009, and the stamp duty changes announced in the budget could be seen as a first step to normalising trading in 2011," she said.

Meanwhile, figures released by rival property website Daft.ie indicated that asking prices for residential property fell by 14 per cent during 2010.

According to Daft.ie, the national average asking price had fallen by 40 per cent from the peak and stood at just below €220,000 at the end of 2010.

‘‘Despite another year of price falls, the market does not yet look in balance," said Daft.ie economist Ronan Lyons.

‘‘On the supply side, the number of properties for sale remains very high, at close to 60,000, while, on the demand side, a range of factors continues to weigh on prospective buyers, including tight credit and expectations of higher taxes and interest rates in coming years."

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