Negative equity has stranglehold on significant sections of Meath market

Inability of owners to move contributing to shortage of family homes


Negative equity has taken a stranglehold on significant sections of the Meath market. Navan in particular saw enormous estate building in the past 15 years, and many of these houses were bought by Dubliners priced out of their home county. With prices down by more than 50per cent, very many are now seriously “under water”.

“At the top of the market good three bedroom semis were selling for €300,000. Today you can get those houses from €110,000. As a result I can point to estates where I know the vast majority of owners are in negative equity,” said Niamh Giffney of DNG Royal County.

Such owners are consequently unable to move house, a fact that is contributing to a growing shortage of family homes on the market.

“Our selection of stock is dwindling,” said Ronan McKenna of Raymond Potterton. “We are actively advertising for three and four bed semis, we have buyers, but can’t get them. So many people are stuck in negative equity now, especially in Navan, that there are entire housing estates completely frozen up. People can’t move.”

It costs less now to buy a house in a town like Navan than it does to build one, which is adding to the shortage of supply. “There are unfinished estates in the town but builders won’t finish them because it will cost more to build them than they will get for them,” said McKenna.

There is evidence of increased mortgage lending this year. “But mortgage lenders are cherry-picking first-time buyers who are unencumbered with previous loans, credit cards or any other debt,” said Dermot Grimes, of REA Grimes in Ashbourne, Co Meath.

He also believes there is a significant tranche of home owners unable to move in the county. “Some of them have good jobs, can manage the mortgage and who want to sell but can’t because of the negative equity.

“The financial institutions will have to come up with some sort of a product that provides a solution to help them move,” said Grimes.

Even aside from the impact this has on labour mobility, at a human level it takes an enormous toll. “There is no doubt that a good lot of people are stuck,” said John Harrington of Smith Harrington in Navan.

“There are people out there who want to sell but can’t, and it’s very hard for them because, when you think about it, they did all the right things.”


Ashgar House, Ashbourne, €698,000 Four-bedroom, two-storey dormer house on just over an acre of gardens. The house extends to 334sq m (3,500sq ft) and has a playroom and pool room.

Maybury Lodge, Ardbraccan, near Navan, €310,000
This cut-stone, three-bed period house, which dates to 1820 , sits on three-quarters of an acre and was originally connected to the Ardbraccan House estate. Agent

Woodstream House, Hurdlestown, €420,000
Modern five-bed on eight acres near Kells, laid out in four paddocks and a large garden. The property includes planning permission for a further house.

Broomfield House, Slane, AMV €1.2-1.3 million Sizeable home on 130 acres of drystock/ arable farm (guiding €7,000- €8,000 per acre if sold separately). Agent REA TE Potterton at the Property Exchange (auction May 21st at 3pm)

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