Green shoots in the Garden County
Property sales in Co Wicklow are up by 23 per cent with the market growing faster than in Dublin, though houses are in short supply
In Wicklow town property transactions were up 102 per cent on 2012 according to Sherry FitzGerald. Photograph: Eric Luke
Bray is the most popular area in the county to buy property. Photograph: David Sleator
The population of Co Wicklow is now at its highest level since 1841. For nearly a century the population had been half the figure cited in the 2011 census of 136,640.
Its terrain, outdoor amenities and low-density housing make the county a popular base for Dublin commuters. Bray and Greystones, which have the attraction of being on the coast, have good public transport links and the TaxSaver scheme means commuters can save up to 52 per cent on commuting costs.
Residents of Wicklow, according to the 2006 census, have longer commuting times than the national average. “But people are rewarded for that,” according to estate agent Simon Murphy of REA Murphy in Blessington. “You get a bigger home with a larger garden for less money than in Dublin and schools have smaller class sizes than in the capital.”
That may be so, but of the two main road networks leading to the capital, the N81, which serves the western side of the county, is single carriage and can be slow moving, compared to the N11, which is part motorway.
Mark Dalymoved to Manor Kilbride in 1997. “We chose Wicklow as a base as there was better value at the time but now our commute to Dublin involves rising half an hour earlier due to traffic on the N81.”
A new study based on an analysis of the property price register, by myhome.ie shows that the number and value of transactions in Wicklow rose substantially during 2013. According to Angela Keegan of myhome.ie: “Transaction levels are up 23 per cent, compared to the national average of 17 per cent, which means the market in Wicklow is growing at a faster pace than in Dublin.”
The study shows there were 974 sales in the Garden County last year, up 23 per cent on the 789 from a year earlier, and that €241.7million was spent on property in Wicklow last year. This upward trend is echoed by estate agents in north Wicklow. “It has been very busy,” says Derrick McGovern, of McGovern Estates in Greystones.
“The third and fourth quarters of 2013 were busier than we’ve had in 12 years and the first quarter of 2014 has been our best first quarter ever.”
In Wicklow town, where transactions were up 102 per cent on 2012, Catherine O’Reilly of Sherry FitzGerald says: “We have just opened a new bigger office, and increased our staff. Our turnover at the end of April 2014 will be equivalent to our total turnover for 2013,” she says.
In 2013, the most popular area to buy property in the county was Bray: one in every five transactions in the county were in the seaside town.
“It’s verging on phenomenal,” says estate agent John Doyle, “and 25 per cent of all our buyers have funds pre-arranged.”
But, according to Gordon Lennox, of Sherry FitzGerald, “while 2014 is better than 2013 and we are now seeing multiple bidders, stock is a huge problem.”
Angela Keegan of myhome.ie agrees: “We were surprised to see the 2013 figures show that sales were down in Enniskerry (by 22 per cent) and Greystones (by 15 per cent) but this is directly related to a stock shortage.”
Other agents throughout north Wicklow agree and all mention the 375 promised units in Greystones Marina Village, where development has been stalled for three years.
South Wicklow is seeing slower recovery according to agent Dolores Somers, who is based in Arklow. “We have buyers moving here as they can’t get on the property ladder in Dublin, and buyers who wish to retire as the pace here is easygoing, however we are only just feeling the ripple effects from Dublin, but that’s fine at the moment as we don’t have enough stock.”
While most agents bemoan the stock shortage of three- and four-bed family homes in good condition, agent Joe Kinsella notices a demand for renovation properties due to the Section 38 restriction in parts of west Wicklow that only allows “native builds”.
“You have to come from here or live here to get planning,” says Kinsella, “and there is a sale restriction on the property for 10 years, so buyers are looking for properties to renovate.”
The most expensive house sale to appear on the property price register so far this year was Boystown House in Co Wicklow, which made €4,925,000. A good omen, perhaps, for the year ahead in the Garden County.
WHAT’S IN AN ADDRESS?
Property prices in Co Wicklow vary hugely with areas near the coast commanding much higher prices than those inland, but even with this there is a pecking order of desirable places to live with Delgany and Greystones topping the list.
Taking prices for similar sized semi-detached three-bedroom family homes in good condition throughout the county, prices vary dramatically.
In Blessington, Murphy Mullan is seeking €65,000 for number 14 Tulfarris Village, and number 18, a corner site is seeking €90,000 through Nugent Auctioneers. Both houses are situated near Blessington Lake with a golf course on their doorstep.
In Wicklow town, 8 The Avenue Burkeen is available through Clarke Auctioneers with an asking price of €180,000. Sherry FitzGerald is asking €145,000 for 158 Knockmore in Arklow but a similar property on the agent’s books in Greystones, St Jude’s Blacklion is seeking €420,000. Moving to Delgany, 26 Eden Wood (a terraced house)will cost €375,000.
Trading up to larger four-bedroom detached houses, of a similar size in good condition, on sites close to an acre, the price trend follows, with Fir Lodge Templecarrig in Greystones asking €695,000 through HJ Byrne and Etterby on Church Road in Delgany with a price tag of €675,000 through Ganly Walters.
In contrast, Tankardstown in Baltinglass has an asking price of €235,000 through REA Southern and Heather Lodge in Newtownmountkennedy has a tag of €500,000 with the added bonus of a swimming pool through agent Des Lalor.
With regards to apartments, Arklow has more apartments for sale than Delgany, Bray and Greystones combined, echoing the laments by many agents that stock is a problem.
In Arklow, a two-bedroom unit in good condition can be found at 5 Whispering Heights through agent Sherry FitzGerald with an asking price of €89,000. A new option in Newtownmountkenndy of a similar size is available at Glenbrook Hall asking €175,000 through Mitchell Douglas. For those wishing to move to Bray, a two bedroomed unit at 35 Old Connaught House will cost €165,000 through DNG. The prices of two-bed units, though scarce, rise dramatically in Delgany and Greystones, with estate agent McGovern seeking €225,000 for 28 The Crescent in Greystones and Sherry FitzGerald seeking €250,000 for an apartment in Delgany Hills.
At the upper end of the market in Wicklow, there are currently 25 properties for sale in the county with price tags of €1 million and above, with the majority located in Bray, Greystones, Ashford and Delgany.