Moving, moving: How to trade down

One agent says downtraders now account for 9 per cent of the Dublin property market. When should you do it, what is available and what do you do with all that house furniture?

Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 01:00

Seán Murtagh was savvy enough to realise that the four-bedroom semi-detached house that he and his wife lived in, in Ballinteer, could be used to turn the page on a new chapter in their life together.

They had married young and the couple’s two daughters were in their 20s and had flown the coop. The couple had been living in their house for 25 years when they put the 1,100sq ft property on the market about 18 months ago. With the money from the sale, they were able to pay off what was left on their mortgage and buy a two-bedroom top-floor apartment in nearby Dundrum.

They didn’t downsize by much, moving from 1,100sq ft to 800sq ft with another 100 ft of outside space in two balconies, one west-facing with sunset views. They have been living there since last Christmas and have saved “quite a bit” on heating bills. Being on the top floor means their home is warmed by the properties below. The development is gated and has security camera surveillance.

Murtagh (51), however, is nowhere near retirement age. He says he has another 12 or 15 years of work ahead of him but they just saw the potential in making a move many people only consider in their 60s or 70s at a time when he and his wife could really benefit from it.

There is room for one of the kids to boomerang back home if required, but Murtagh and his wife have meanwhile set their sights on a place in the sun, in Portugal or France, where they could spend six months of the year when retirement time does come around.


Bullish behaviour

They were lucky. Had they waited another six months, he is not sure they could have moved, given the recent bullish behaviour of the Dublin housing market.

Trading-down sales accounted for 9 per cent of business in the first four months of 2014, up from 7 per cent at the height of the boom, says Siobhán Corcoran, economist with SherryFitzGerald.

“The potential for growth is significant,” says David Lawlor of Hooke and MacDonald. “Currently 8 per cent of the population of Dublin occupies over 20 per cent of the housing stock. Many couples whose families are reared are occupying four- and five- bedroom family houses that are much too big for them, expensive to maintain and incur high property tax charges.”

Freeing up some of these homes would open up the market, he says.

We are living longer, too. Out of a population of 4.441 million, 12.4 per cent is aged 65 and over, according to the OECD’s Statistical Profile of Ireland, published in November of last year using 2012 figures. That’s a potential market of more than 358,000 older people nationwide. Life expectancy for men is over 78 years and for women it is 82 years.

Change their minds

Those trading down are cash buyers and are “reinvesting a half to one-third of the monies earned on the purchase of their new, smaller property”, says Pat Mullery a seasoned negotiator with DNG.

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