“Enormous amounts of money have disappeared. For the first time in our history, we Irish began investing in securities. Even farmers, for example, were putting big money into stocks through brokers. It was all on word-of-mouth recommendations. And now it’s all fallen apart. People have lost as much as 80% and more of what they invested.
“It’s happened so suddenly, and the knock-on effects are far-reaching. It’s like the entire country, overnight, has hit a wall.
“Unemployment is rising to levels not seen since the 1970s. The construction and contracting businesses are out of business. Whole estates [that is, building subdivisions]have been boarded up and abandoned, mid-build. Shopping malls, too.
“Nobody’s buying, and nothing is selling. The country’s property market has evaporated, again, seemingly overnight.
“A house I know listed for 1.5 million euro early last year is for sale now for half that, and it won’t sell. There are many examples of this, especially in Dublin, but around the country, too. Prices aren’t soft or sliding…they’re crumbling.
“I believe the market will recover, but it will take at least two years. Meantime, Kathleen, Lief, maybe this is the time for you to think about buying back in. We’d love to have you as neighbors again.”
We enjoyed dinner last night with a couple of old friends from Ireland who are here in Paris, like us, to celebrate the New Year. David was our architect in Waterford; his wife Morette our solicitor. Morette was a great help to us when, after five years of full-time residency, we worked through the process of becoming Irish citizens. David and Morette understand our connection to their homeland. They helped us to adopt it as our second homeland of sorts.
And their suggestion that the time is nigh for us to think about making another property investment on the Emerald Isle got our attention.
“That place in Dunmore would be perfect for them,” David suggested to Morette.
“Yes, Dunmore would be the place,” Morette agreed. “Dunmore property prices rise and fall along with those in the rest of the country, but the houses of character in this town will always hold their value. This would be a place to own for the long term. A chance to own something worth owning.”
“Yes, and this house I’m thinking of,” David continued, “it’s perfectly situated with a view down the estuary. You’d have a bit of land. It’d be the ideal property for family gatherings. A place you could renovate and then use as a base. You’d have room for the kids and their friends. The house and the view, both really are special.”
“How much?” Lief asked, getting to the point.
“Well, it was listed for something like 1.2 or 1.3 million euro. Now, I believe they’re asking about 700,000 euro.”
“What could it be bought for?”
“Less…maybe much less.”