Rising Dublin house prices in the 1980s: From the Archives, May 16th, 1989
House prices remained in the doldrums in the 1980s but shot up in the more popular areas of Dublin at the end of the decade, as Willy Clingan reported, when banks entered what had been the preserve of building societies
On September 24th, 1987, a senior bank executive paid £227,000 [€288,250] for a Victorian house called “Grenagh” on Avoca Avenue, the grandest road in Blackrock, Co Dublin. On May 4th this year, the house was up for sale again because its owner was moving to the United States, and this time it fetched £355,000 [€450,750] – a rise of £128,000 [€162,500], amounting to 56 per cent in just over a year and a half.
Such spectacular increases have not been confined to the top end of the market. Home-owners in comfortable, attractively mature – but, in truth, unexceptional – roads in many [areas] of Dublin have watched their houses rise in price by 50 per cent upwards during the last two years.
Greenlea Road in Terenure is a neat example. Built in the late 1940s off Terenure Road West, it is a perfectly pleasant road, mainly comprising straightforward suburban semis. No wonder Paul Newman of Douglas Newman Good estate agency got excited six weeks ago when he auctioned a house on it for £104,000: he says he remembers a similar house on the road selling for £57,000 a year earlier. Those figures represent an increase of over 77 per cent in 12 months.
And it was no freak result. Two more houses on Greenlea Road have been sold in recent weeks: the one immediately next door fetched £90,000 even though it was in dated, uninspiring condition (the fireplace in the sitting room had been blocked up, for example) and another house was snapped up before the auction date for a figure believed to be in the mid-£90,000s.
House prices in Dublin started rising in the early spring of last year. By the summer, when estate agents were packing their swimming togs for the property market’s traditional August close-season, “all the signs were there the autumn was going to be a humdinger”, says Tom McCarron of Hamilton Osborne King.
And so it proved. Scarcely a week passed between September and December without at least a couple of auction results that made people blink in disbelief. Estate agents said that some people seemed to be “panic buying”, particularly people who had sold their own houses and feared that prices would soar out of reach if they did not buy immediately.
The Christmas holiday for agents started later than ever – one agent claims he clinched a sale at a quarter to six on Christmas Eve – and ended almost before the turkey was finished. Prices continued rising until Easter, but since then the sheer volume of houses coming up for sale appears to be bringing about some levelling off in prices and in the percentage success rate at auctions. “The mad stampede may be over”, one agent suggested last week.
At times this year, it has seemed from looking at the pages upon pages of auction advertisements in the papers that the whole city is up for sale. That is not so. Even now, at the very height of the main selling season, there were only between 80 and 90 houses auctioned in Dublin last week. In a whole year (even a busy one) the number of auctions held in Dublin is unlikely to be much above 2,500 at best – a small figure in a city of Dublin’s size.
Houses in some areas of the city have obviously benefited from the rise in values more than homes in other parts. The market first started rising – and has continued to rise most noticeably – in south-east Dublin, the area which estate agents call The Gold Coast, stretching from Sandymount to Killiney and reaching inland to include Dublin 6, Mount Merrion and Foxrock. North Dublin’s own Gold Coast, between Clontarf and Howth, has not been far behind. Even in these favoured areas, however, houses need to be on attractive roads to achieve strong results, and details like being on the sunny side of the road can be crucial. And the market remains unpredictable.
Auctions for lovely houses on the loveliest roads [do] flop. A beautifully restored house in Waltham Terrace in Blackrock failed to draw a single bid at the auction at autumn. It was sold subsequently. A period house in its own grounds on Brennanstow Road in Carrickmines suffered the same silent fate in the auction room.
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Compiled by Joe Joyce; email email@example.com