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ireland property, luxury homes, covid effect on property

Ireland Attracts Country Life Buyers

06.05.20

COVID-19 and wider global market uncertainty may have cast a pall over normal property market activity, forcing buyers and sellers into a holding position, but the country home market has seen more activity this year than last when the top sale for all of 2018 was €3.8 million for Dowdstown house in Maynooth, Co Kildare.

Already this year the upper end of the market has recorded a number of much stronger sales including most recently the historic Luggala estate on 5,000 acres in Wicklow, which has just sold to an overseas buyer for an undisclosed sum, believed to be close to €20 million. Other sales so far included Prumplestown House in Carlow where the 298-acre farm sold at auction for €4.87 million; The Fortgranite estate in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, on 330 acres made €3 million and, close by, Pine Lodge near Blessington sold for just over its €1.25 million asking price within two weeks of launch.

With agents estimating about one in three buyers are coming from the UK, there has been a definite upsurge in interest from that quarter with their interest mainly in the core country house and second-home market. Roseanne de Vere Hunt of Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes is seeing a mix of Irish people in senior positions moving back to Ireland, but also “future buying” young couples doing well in the UK who are buying now with a view to returning once their children start secondary school. Similarly they are seeing older people changing their retirement plans and looking to Ireland, in particular if one of them is Irish.

James Meagher of Knight Frank believes the outcome of a good or bad Brexit will be very important in shaping the rest of 2019, with a portion of potential UK-based buyers holding back due to the weak pound.

James Butler of Savills takes a different view. “Buyers believe that they will be faced with greater competition once COVID is resolved and are happy to press on with a purchase now. I anticipate the volume of prime properties coming to the market to increase.”

Typically most activity is in the €400,000 to €1 million sector, where there is the largest proportion of buyers. Here they are usually looking for a second home, maybe with a view to retiring there. Further up the scale, the buyer checklist tends to include a period or charming well-built house close to Dublin or Cork on land from 10 acres to 100 acres, within an hour and half of an international airport, often with secondary accommodation (for staff/guests) and water access. Savills estimates water frontage/direct access to a beach can add between 25 per cent and 50 per cent to the value of a house and almost always attracts competitive interest.

The appetite is limited for doer-uppers; properties have to be walk-in ready with contemporary upgrades while efficient broadband is increasingly becoming a deal breaker. A further bonus, Butler says, is if there is an ability to generate income from a property in particular if the property requires capital investment for renovation and redecoration.

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