Sept. 29, 2011

"Kathleen, I am interested in real estate in Ireland. I understand that the Southwest is the warmest and sunniest part of Ireland? I want to protect my money by buying property outside the United States, with an eye to living there part time, maybe eventually full time.

"I know little to nothing about real estate, let alone buying overseas. A friend told me about you, and I would trust a real estate agent you would recommend.

"Thank you for any advice you can give me."

--Tom M., United States

In fact, I'd say the "Sunny Southeast" of Ireland, as it's called, has the best weather in the country. This is where we lived, in Waterford, during our seven years as residents of the Emerald Isle.

The most important thing to understand as you launch a property search in this country is that Ireland has no multiple listings service (MLS). This is the case in most of the world, but most Americans are unprepared for the implications.

No MLS means that you can't visit a single property agent, present the criteria of your search, view what's currently available to match your parameters, make a decision, and you would in the States.

Because, as there's no MLS, any single property agent in Waterford (or anywhere in Ireland) is going to represent only a selection of properties currently on the market, maybe a small selection. This came as a surprise to us when we moved to Waterford years ago, made an appointment to meet a local agent, explained what we were looking for (big, old, stone, and Georgian, on some land), and were told about two houses.

Surely there must be more than two houses available in all Waterford County that could fit our criteria, we said to ourselves at the time. And there were. But to find the dozen or so others available, we had to go to meet personally with the half-dozen other real estate agents also operating in Waterford City then. Each had two or three such houses on his books. Some overlapped. This did not mean that those listings were shared (agents in Ireland don't understand the concept of a shared listing). It meant that the seller in each case had listed his house for sale with more than one agent...sometimes at differing prices.

The other thing I'd keep in mind if launching a real estate search in Ireland right now is that this country's property markets have fallen off a cliff over the past three years. Prices are down 50% and more in some regions...and hugely negotiable. The asking price is nothing more than a place to start the conversation.

Armed with that knowledge, I'd recommend the following three agents in Waterford:

You could also try Sherry Fitzgerald, who could help you not only in Waterford but elsewhere in the country, too. Her group operates as kind of a franchise, something like a Century 21, for example, with "independent" agents in different cities under the same umbrella name. At the website, you can choose the location where you'd like to search.


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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

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