Meath Living: Stock still an issue in the Royal County

Residential sales are down so far on last year, but agents are optimistic the market will rally

 Navan Co  Meath: For the first quarter of 2016, overall residential sales for Co Meath were down on 2015. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Navan Co Meath: For the first quarter of 2016, overall residential sales for Co Meath were down on 2015. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

For the first quarter of 2016, overall residential sales for Co Meath were down on 2015. Figures from myhome.ie show that transactions during the January-March period were down 15.2 per cent from 341 transactions during the same period in 2015 to 289 sales for 2016.

“This year has been challenging on two fronts: the continuing issue of stock and the 20 per cent deposit having a more serious impact than it did in 2015,” says Aidan Heffernan of Sherry FitzGerald Royal in Trim.

Chris Smith of Quillsen in Navan cites the “uncertainty and distraction caused by the general election this year” as a further issue on lack of transactions “not just in Navan but right across the commuter belt”.

Frank Harrington of Smith Harrington in Navan has witnessed “a consistent level of transactions but a slower price growth. Prices are marginally up with starter homes experiencing the highest level of growth due to short supply.”

Thomas Potterton of REA TE Potterton in Trim says: “The lower end of the market has now risen by 30 per cent in certain cases and we have witnessed steady growth, but it is all down to sensible pricing and a willing vendor.”

Distressed sales

All agents agree that stock is still an issue, with many houses being carryovers from 2015. “We are getting distressed and receivership sales where the majority are in poor condition, so potential buyers have retreated and are staying put for the time being,” Smith says.

Further issues include homeowners stuck in negative equity and vacant houses which are tied up with bank and legal issues – if these were released it would really increase availability”, according to Eamon Gavigan of DNG Royal County.

Gavigan cites the strong demand for three- and four-bed semidetached houses as one of the reasons that have seen three-bedroom standard houses in Johnstown rise from achieving €125,000 in 2014 to selling for about €185,000 in 2016.

Figures from the Property Price Register show the highest price achieved in Meath for 2016 was Kinmere, a 557sq m (5,995sq ft) modern pile in Batterstown. The property had an asking price of €1.55 million and sold for €1.4 million in February 2016 through Knight Frank. The lowest transaction was €28,500 for 5 Kenlis Place in Kells.

Dublin-based Hora Property Consultants and family business Hora Homes have been building houses in Meath for the past 45 years.

“We never actually stopped in the recession and we just about kept going,” says Meath native Aidan Hora.

Hora cites the split in the Meath market, where towns such as Ratoath, Dunshaughlin, Dunboyne and Ashbourne are in the first line of the Dublin commuter belt and achieve higher prices due to their proximity to the M50.

“The market for our development in Dunshaughlin – the Georgian Collection – are buyers who work in the Dublin 15 area, as their commute is only 15 minutes,” he says. “Buyers are finding they have much better value here than they would in Castleknock. ”

Hora Homes has further developments in the pipeline for Dunshaughlin and Trim as “what buyers really want is the late 1990s product of four-bedroom detached homes”, Hora says.

With the new building regulations, it is not economically viable for companies to build in the Athboy, Navan, and Kells areas “but whoever starts there needs to build high-quality homes in good locations as this will achieve better prices,” says Hora.

“Apartments are in demand with investors looking for a greater return than money in the bank,” says Eamon Shields of Quillsen.

“Lots of foreign nationals who have saved over the years are now buying as they feel the time is right.”

Mill Lane Court in Navan, a block of 20 apartments, achieved €2.12 million in March this year.

Potential threat

In relation to country houses and larger estates, “there are noticeably less inquiries from the UK, which can probably be attributed to the potential threat of Brexit”, says Thomas Potterton, who also stresses that even though there is little development in Trim, there are no ghost estates.

All agents cite the Central Bank lending rules as having an impact, but it appears that stock is one of the major issues in the Royal County.

There are positive notes, such as the job announcement from Shire Pharmaceuticals for a 200-acre facility near Dunboyne.

This will create 400 full-time jobs once the unit is opened, plus a further 700 jobs in construction until 2019.

Also the new Facebook data centre in Clonee will employ more than 2,000 people in construction and a further 150 once the centre is open.

The total area of the facility will be more than 57,000sq m (613,000sq ft), eight times the size of the Aviva Stadium.

“It’s all very positive and will put Meath on the map, and our homegrown Avoca on the Plantagen site will add a further 80 jobs too,” Gavigan says.

Recent improvements in the road infrastructure in Meath and the commuter service from Navan to Dublin will also add to the option of Meath as a commuter base for workers in Dublin.

Agents are positive in the Royal County and are optimistic that the autumn season, which traditionally sees the greatest volume of sales, will balance out the overall figures for 2016.

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