Irish Property Market Falls By 60%

Stone Cottage In Kenmare For 80,000 Euro…And Other Irish Property Bargains

Earlier this month, international credit agency Fitch stated that it now expects property prices in Ireland to fall 60% from the peak values of 2007. (The agency had previously predicted values to halve.)

For the last couple of years, the Irish papers have been full of similar statistics. While those of us in negative equity have tried desperately to tune it all out, the would-be buyer would do well to start paying attention.

The problem has been that sellers and agents hadn’t yet learned to let go of their peak-value thinking. Properties were still being listed at hugely inflated and wholly unrealistic prices. As a foreign buyer looking at the market, you had your work cut out for you. How could you know where to start with an offer?

Now, almost five years on from the start of the collapse, the market is finally starting to make sense. The prices we’re seeing listed in agents’ windows and on the web today are far more realistic, reflective of both Fitch’s outlook and the figures we’ve heard (through the grapevine) that properties are actually exchanging hands for.

To give you an idea of what’s on offer today, here are some samples I dug up in some of my favorite spots around the country, places I believe hold something special for the discerning expat…

** 200-year-old Georgian house in Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny. On the banks of the River Barrow, “Graigue” is a tranquil, scenic village that’s a favorite stop-off for bargers and a haven for fishermen. With mountain views, the house has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, sitting room, kitchen, dining room, gardens to front and rear, orchard, courtyard, stables, and stone outbuildings (which could serve many uses). Price: 310,000 euro (US$386,396).

** Muir Cottage at Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford. Despite its best efforts, County Wexford, particularly the southern area and coast, is largely overlooked by tourists. Those in the know head to Kilmore Quay in summer for its long, half-moon stretch of white-sand beach, pretty harbor, and friendly cafés and restaurants. This three-bed cottage, with island views, has been refurbished to maintain its original features. On a half-acre, it’s ideal as either a vacation or full-time home. Price: 139,000 euros (US$173,256).

** 2-for-1 on the Ring of Kerry. Riverstar Lodge in Kenmare is a two-bedroom home with adjoining two-bed cottage. On 3.2 acres, it’s in a quiet cul-de-sac with views over the Blackwater Valley. The main house has an open-plan kitchen/dining/living area, conservatory, bathroom, and two bedrooms. The cottage has a kitchen, living room, sun room, shower room, and two bedrooms. Also includes a number of outhouses. Price: 185,000 euro (US$230,628). Or, if village living is more your style, there’s a charming little stone property in Kenmare proper, in need of modernization, for just 80,000 euro (US$99,731).

** Period apartment in South Dublin. Dublin property still commands the highest prices, especially the south of the county. But who could fail to be charmed by this one-bed apartment-style home in Blackrock? Just 63 square meters, laid out over two floors, it has living/dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, patio off the kitchen, 10.5-foot-high sash windows, and many period features throughout. Price: 160,000 euro (US$199,478).

Again, these are properties in some of the best neighborhoods. Cheaper options are available, too. For country-wide listings, is a great starting point.

Does all this mean it’s time to jump in and buy a place of your own on the Emerald Isle? If you can hold off, I’d give it another year at least. There’s still room for more leveling in the marketplace. I believe, the best values are yet to come.

But if you really have your heart set on a foothold in Ireland, sooner rather than later, it’s not the worst time to start looking. Just don’t make the mistake the Irish made for the past two decades—looking on their home purchase as a form of investment. If you’re happy with the price and the property is somewhere you’ll enjoy spending time, you can’t go too far wrong.

Lynn Mulvihill


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