Supply of homes for first-time Dublin buyers still scarce until late next year


The number of new apartments and starter homes due to be launched in the Dublin area over the next three months is now expected to fall well short of the demand.

Agents specialising in the new homes market believe that despite all the Government's efforts to increase supply in the short term, there is unlikely to be an adequate number of new homes available until the second half of next year. From then onwards, house completions are scheduled to grow rapidly in the greater Dublin area.

Two of the biggest developments under way, one of them in the grounds of Blanchardstown Hospital and the other at Santry Demesne - they will have around 2,800 new homes in all - are not expected to hit the market until early next year, despite the temptation to pre-sell tranches of them this autumn.

Several other major schemes are held up because of delays in either planning or the servicing of land.

Agents are agreed that many first-time buyers will not be able to find homes this autumn. Ross McParland says he has at least 2,000 people on a waiting list for specific schemes. Ken MacDonald of Hooke and MacDonald does not expect any significant pick-up in the supply of new homes until next autumn, while Ronan O'Driscoll of Hamilton Osborne King reports an unprecedented level of interest in new schemes due to go for sale over the coming months.

Nevertheless, buyers will have a reasonably good choice this autumn, but with very few new schemes due to come on stream in south Dublin, the search will have to be confined to either west or north Dublin or the adjoining counties.

With developers enthusiastically embracing the Government's diktat on higher densities, most sites now include an ever-increasing number of apartments and two-bedroom terraced homes aimed specifically at first-time buyers.

One-bedroom apartments in outlying areas are generally making £120,000 to £150,000, while two-bedroom terraced homes are fetching from £140,000 to £220,000, depending on which side of the city they are located. Developers and agents are agreed that traditional starter homes - three-bedroom semis with front and rear gardens - will be a little harder to find in the future as the emphasis switches to more intensive use of development sites.

It will also be more difficult to acquire new apartments in the city over the coming months. Only a handful of schemes are currently under way and with rents now at exorbitant levels because of the Bacon tax measures, prices in some areas are likely to be beyond the reach of many first-time buyers.

Easily the most interesting development of new homes coming on the market this autumn will be Park Development's scheme at the superbly located former Mount St Anne's convent grounds in Milltown. There will be 480 apartments and houses in all, but the first phase will be confined to apartments. The site is acknowledged as easily the best available for a large scheme in the south Dublin suburbs.

Michael Cotter's company is also due to launch another phase of three-bed semis at The Gallops in Sandyford. These were sold for £52,950 when the scheme was first launched in 1990, but with some of the original homes now making around £200,000, the next 50 semis are likely to cost in excess of that figure.

Seamus Neville's Co Wexford-based company is even slower to offer houses for sale at its massive site in Loughlinstown. Once the next phase of houses goes on the market, it seems inevitable that the three-bed semis will at least hit the £200,000 mark. The same price level will probably apply in new schemes planned for Stepaside and Ballyogan.

Lido Construction has not yet announced prices for the 52 three and four-bedroom semis and townhouses it is building in Templeogue. The same applies to the 250 houses and apartments to be launched by Jackson Properties on the former Hallmark site at Butterfield Avenue in Rathfarnham.

Location will also be a strong selling point for Sorohan, which is building 40 three and four-bedroom townhouses in Sandycove. A sell-out here is assured.

With most developers now opting for high density schemes, buyers waiting to trade up to detached homes will be hard pressed to find what they are looking for.

However, there will be a number of detached homes on the Hallmark site, as well as in Lucan, where Fitzgibbon Brothers is building 40 units.

With so much emphasis now on starter homes, other sectors of the market remain largely neglected by housebuilders. Near Clonee, Menolly Properties will shortly be advertising yet another phase of its development off the Navan Road. Over 100 three and four-bedroom semis and two-bedroom townhouses and apartments will be available from the end of September.

Closer to the city centre, Cosgrave Homes is preparing to launch an apartment scheme at South Circular Road and an infill terraced housing development at Cabra Road. In the Dublin docklands, a consortium building 189 apartments at Clarion Quay is due to pre-sell another batch of units on top of the 40 already committed. The first residents are due to move in next March.

In Drumcondra, Shannon Homes is building 100 apartments and houses on a convent site with frontage on to St Alphonsus Road. Near the Guinness Brewery, 71 one and two-bedroom apartments are due to be launched in the coming months at James's Street.

Other apartment schemes are under way in the Smithfield area, off Francis Street, and in Kilmainham, Inchicore, Drumcondra, Finglas and Clondalkin. In fact there are now so many apartments planned for suburban sites that some agents are warning that this sector of the market will be saturated within two years.

Young couples looking for their first home will be anxious to buy this autumn because of fears that prices will continue to rise. Both Ken MacDonald and Ross McParland are forecasting that prices will rise at a more moderate rate than in the earlier part of the year. However, Ronan O'Driscoll anticipates price increases of 7 to 10 per cent between now and the end of the year in some sectors, while new homes specialist Brendan Byrne warns that prices for two and three-bedroom townhouses could "go through the roof" in the next four months because of the anticipated shortage.