Warming up in Wexford

After years of low activity, the numbers indicate a stable rise in sales of family homes in urban centres all over the county thanks to more realistic pricing by sellers


After a number of tough years are the clouds lifting fromabove the sunny south east’s housing market? “We’re very busy. There are lots of enquiries and things are moving, albeit at small money,” says Ciara Slattery of Warren Estates in Gorey.

Frank McGuinness of McGuinness Lambert in Enniscorthy concurs. “This year is better than last. Things are improving a little and certainly there are more lookers. But no big priced properties are selling,” he says.

Their experiences are backed up by myhome.ie, whose research indicates sales activity in Wexford hit its highest level in three years last year.

“The total number of sales in 2012 was up 32 per cent on the 2011 figure of 594 transactions and 21 per cent up on the 2010 figure of 692,” says James Rogers, myhome.ie’s site and communications editor. The majority of transactions were valued at less than €250,000.

“The market in Gorey is being driven by first time buyers and mature couples trading down, both of whom want to stay close to town,” says Slattery. Three bedroom semi-detached houses in Gorey are available from €110,000.

“All of a sudden, we are seeing a shortage of good quality three and four-bed houses in the town. By contrast, there are plenty of one off houses, big detached properties available out of town. Buyers can have their pick of those, yet there is strong interest in and appetite for agricultural land,” she says.

Further south, in Wexford town, three bedroom semi-detached houses sell for between €100,000 and €150,000. “Prices have hit rock bottom now and I think, in terms of the property market, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” says estate agent Ray Corish.

Colum Murphy, managing director of Kehoe and Associates, also in Wexford Town, agrees. “We are now seeing a shortage of four bedroom family homes. The number of properties available in the town, as listed on property websites (such as myhome and daft), has halved in the last two years, simply because people have refrained from putting houses on the market.”

Greater sense of reality
Anything that is properly priced is moving however. “Even houses that are in need of repair are selling, as long as they are cheap enough,” says Frank McGuinness of McGuinness Lambert in Enniscorthy.

“A few years ago no one would consider anything if it wasn’t fully finished. Now, people are prepared to buy them and put the work in, if they are cheap.”

His belief is that the market has bottomed out. “Certainly, one thing we don’t hear any more is ‘it’s too dear’. That’s because only people who really need, or want, to sell are putting their house on the market at the moment,” McGuinness adds.

There is, finally, a greater sense of reality to the market than there was in the early years of the downturn.

“The hardest part of any downward market is always getting sellers conditioned to it,” says McGuinness. “Now they are because auctioneers won’t take on properties that aren’t properly priced. They’d be a busy fool to do so.”

Michael O’Leary of Sherry Fitzgerald O’Leary, also in Enniscorthy, had to let four of his staff go during the downturn. Now he finds his problem is trying to cope with a sudden fillip in market activity on a skeleton staff.

“There just aren’t enough hours in the day right now. We are really busy and had a very, very good first quarter. Sales doubled on this time last year,” says O’Leary. Most of his buyers are “people who sold into the market three or four years ago, saw how hard it was to sell, and hung on.”

Up to 50 per cent of his sales are to cash buyers. Here too, low prices are key.

“We are talking small money, €65,000 for a new two bedroom semi detached house in the town, the last ones and twos of developments that were begun during the boom, all in fully finished estates,” says O’Leary.

He is selling two bed mid terrace houses for €55,000 and four bed detached houses for €105,000, which would have cost €250,000 when they originally launched.

“I think that prices are unsustainably low now because you couldn’t build houses for that,” he adds.

Cloneranny House,
Castletown, Co Wexford
Warren Estates, AMV €1.25m for the lot
This residential farmhouse is in good condition and sits on 90 acres on a coastal location at Castletown, 10km north of Gorey. Four bedroom house with land currently in grass. For sale by auction in one or more lots; warrenestates.com.

Glaslacken, Bunclody, Co Wexford
DNG O’Connor & O’Connor, €545,000.
A large (3,444sq ft) family home at Glaslacken, two miles from Bunclody, Co Wexford, on 2.4 acres of garden with views of Mount Leinster. Built in 2001, the five bedroom house – four en suite - has two reception rooms plus study and sun lounge; dngoconnorandoconnor.ie.

Sarshill, Kilmore,
Co Wexford
Kehoe & Associates, €92,500
This picture postcard thatched cottage is in need of modernisation and sits on seven acres, a mile from Kilmore village ; kehoeproperty.com