A new survey reveals the continuing strength of housing demand, in spite of an unfavourable buying climate and uncertainty about the impact of Brexit. 

The latest KBC Homebuyer Sentiment Survey found that 59% of those planning to buy a home say it is harder to find a suitable home now than a year ago. 

As a result, only 32% of those in the home-buying market say now is a good time to purchase, but they still intend to do so.

KBC Bank said the survey's findings highlight the needs-based nature of the demand for property. 

The survey, which is published twice a year, suggests that a range of personal factors rather than a buoyant Irish economy are driving very strong homebuyer demand. 

It also said that the surge in housing demand is mainly due to the fact that large numbers of people are now in accommodation that no longer meets their needs.

Half of those surveyed cited changed personal circumstances rather than broader economic conditions as the main reason they now plan to buy a home.

28% of those surveyed say they have reached a stage in life where they need to buy while another 12% cite family circumstances such as changes in family size and a further 10% highlight other personal or work related reasons. 

Just 12% of purchasers suggest they are now buying because of improvements in their financial circumstances. 

"Indeed, reflecting pent-up demand and inadequate supply, only 32% of those planning to purchase think now is a good time to buy while 28% of those now in the market indicated that now is a bad time to buy," KBC Bank said. 

"A key message of the survey is that most purchasers are purchasing because they need to, rather than because they want to," the bank added.

Today's survey also emphasises a desire to put down roots rather than take a first step on the property ladder with 48% of buyers saying they expect to live in the property they purchase for over 20 years. 

It noted that first-time buyers remain the most important market segment and are growing in importance – with the number of first time buyers moving up to 55% from 51% a year ago. 

KBC said this could reflect the influence of the "help to buy" scheme which could close at the end of the year. 

Austin Hughes, chief economist at KBC Bank Ireland, said the results of the survey show that demand for residential housing remains strong and highlights its needs-based nature. 

"The survey emphasises that reasons for buying a home are primarily personal and reflect "micro" circumstances rather than the "macro" economy. Indeed only one in three would-be purchasers think now is a good time to buy but they are still intent on purchasing," he pointed out. 

"Brexit is adding further to uncertainty with a notable number of purchasers fearing either higher prices for the sort of home they want to buy or some weakening in their own purchasing power," the economist added.