Affordable homes lure buyers to the Royal County
New buyers are finding they get a lot more bang for their buck in this area
The commutable Meath towns of Ashbourne, Navan and Dunshaughlin have been affected by the skyrocketing prices in Dublin with many house hunters in the Dublin 15 and 11 districts looking to the more affordable housing stock in the Royal County.
In 2017, 2,338 transactions were recorded in the county, a 35.9 per cent increase on 2016. The most expensive property sold this year was Galtrim House and Estate – home of the late Eileen Wren, Countess of Mount Charles – which sold for €1.92 million on an original asking price of €2.25 million. There are 787 properties listed for sale, a figure which is likely to increase in line with the number of new developments coming on stream.
Agents are upbeat about the market in the county. “The two bed mid terrace is very popular, and one-bed apartments are very sought after among first-time buyers,” says Celine Geraghty of Sherry FitzGerald Geraghty. It’s possible to pick up a two-bedroom apartment in urban areas for about €130,000, whereas rents on these properties can command €1,200 a month.
The largest segment of the market is that of new three- and four-bedroom energy efficient family homes. John Farrell of Hooke and MacDonald estimates that over 50 per cent of buyers work in Dublin adding “with improved infrastructure [the M3 motorway, a Park and Ride facility at Dunboyne, upgraded M4 and M2 roads] potential buyers who are currently living and working in the city centre view new developments as a good destination for affordable prices”.
He also notes that 75 per cent of purchasers avail of the Help to Buy scheme – the incentive to assist first-time buyers introduced by the Government last year.
Agents agree that there are some segments slower to move – “bungalows from the 1970s and 1980s always seem to be tricky if not priced well”, according to local agent Aidan O’Hora, adding that “it will be interesting to see how the towns such as Kells and Athboy fare as affordability becomes more of an issue over the next two years. I expect to see some builders dust down old plans in these towns and try to develop affordable houses in the sub-€200,000–€300,000 price bracket.”
As far as infrastructure is concerned, the NX – a 24-hour Navan to Dublin express bus – has improved commute times to Dublin, and the National Development Plan outlines that the northern rail corridor which serves Gormanstown and Laytown will be upgraded to Dart service between now and 2027. And while the National Transport Authority is considering extending a rail line to Navan, O’Hora says, “it is an essential piece of infrastructure that needs to be considered sooner rather than later”.
On the employment front the €200 million Facebook data centre in Clonee and the €367 million Shire Pharmaceutical campus in Piercetown are expected to have a significant impact on the property market in Meath, and this may help to move some of the larger properties seeking more than €1 million – of which there are nine at the moment.
While commuting to Dublin city centre is still an issue, many new buyers are finding they get a lot more bang for their buck in the Royal County.