High-end Dublin houses are selling quickly. Who’s buying them?

Around the Block: Agents taken aback by speed at which prime properties are trading

Anyone passing Palmerston Road in Rathmines, Dublin 6, regularly might stop when they see the Lisney sign outside Number 84, a restored Victorian. Advertised at the end of May, it went sale agreed within four weeks for a sum in excess of the €2.15 million asking price.

Some homes at this level are trading at a rate that agents are not used to, says Stephen Day of Lisney, comparing the newly-speedy private treaty sales with the month-long auction campaigns of 2006/07. Buyers don’t need to have cash, but they need to have the wherewithal to buy, says Day, and they need to know the price is fair.

At this end of the market, a lot of people have a lot of money, and they are ready to spend it. Rena O’Kelly of Sherry FitzGerald notes the pent-up demand and lack of procrastination, saying: “People moving to a super-prime property may do it as a natural step up from the house they are in. Others may think they are living in their dream home but then a ‘once in a decade’ property becomes available” and offers something extra: a granny flat, better garden orientation or privacy.

Pat Mullery of Terenure-based Mullery O’Gara has recently finalised the sale of 22 Highfield Road in Rathgar for “significantly above” the €2.95 million being sought. In this case, 90 per cent of the nine or 10 bidders were seeking to trade up within a mile or two of home – although a few were looking from abroad – and “there was no question but that anyone bidding on it was in a position to buy”.


Orla McMorrow of DNG notes “a good mix”: some who have sold are renting until they find something to buy, but there is a significant cohort of cash buyers in their 30s “who want to move back from London or the US to buy their forever home near their families and send their children to private schools in south Dublin”. She adds that there is overseas interest in Kinvara, an Edwardian house on Westminster Road in Foxrock on the market for €3.15 million. While about 50 per cent of houses on her books are executors’ sales, people based here are more likely than those moving home to take on a renovation project, she says.

Some of those selling worry whether they will be able to find somewhere quickly. Bobby Geraghty of Hunters sums it up thus: “I believe the lack of supply is almost creating a lack of supply . . . many are deciding not to sell or downsize as there simply isn’t the choice of stock available.”

As for where sellers of these big houses go, Mullery says he finds most are staying in Dublin, and if they are moving outside their immediate area “it’s usually to be close to their grown-up children in south Co Dublin”.

And, on a related note, McMorrow has noticed a small trend at the top end of the Dublin market in which, spurred by Covid, young families sell up and move to Cork, Galway or Wexford – and their parents follow them.