Working from home impacts property prices: A ‘perfect storm’, says Cork auctioneer

‘Houses are like hens’ teeth here’ – house prices outside Dublin continue to rise

 Glounthane in east Cork, where a house  “was finished well but it attracted great interest at least partly as a result of companies telling people that they can now work from home”. File photograph: Google Street View

Glounthane in east Cork, where a house “was finished well but it attracted great interest at least partly as a result of companies telling people that they can now work from home”. File photograph: Google Street View

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The changes in the State’s property market became clear to auctioneer James Colbert recently when he handled the sale of a house in Glounthane in east Cork.

“It was finished well but it attracted great interest at least partly as a result of companies telling people that they can now work from home,” the Midleton auctioneer said.

Much of the interest came from Corkonians living in Dublin: “We had five people driving down one day – all from east Cork who wanted to move closer to family now that they could work remotely.

“They found during the pandemic that they had no support network in Dublin. They had no family around them, so they had no break from the kids. By moving back, they would have family.”

With a guide price of €385,000, the house quickly attracted offers, selling in the end for €455,000, but that pales beside sales influenced recently by Irish buyers returning from Dubai.

“We sold one in Killeagh and another in Carrigtwohill, €170,000 over the asking – couples with money wanting to come home to Cork,” Colbert told The Irish Times.

Commenting on two surveys highlighting the surge in house prices outside of Dublin, Mr Colbert said “a perfect storm” exists, fuelled by strong competition and few houses.

In west Cork, Skibbereen auctioneer Pat Maguire says 90 per cent of current hopeful buyers are Irish wanting the good life, while interest from UK buyers has fallen back because of travel restrictions.

Skibbereen auctioneer Pat Maguire says 90 per cent of current hopeful buyers are Irish, wanting the good life, while interest from UK buyers has fallen back because of travel restrictions.
Skibbereen auctioneer Pat Maguire says 90 per cent of current hopeful buyers are Irish, wanting the good life, while interest from UK buyers has fallen back because of travel restrictions.

“Viewings have doubled. It’s mainly Irish couples relocating for quality of life reasons – people with money sitting in the bank, doing nothing and deciding they want to move to the country.”

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Many were coming from Cork city, he said: “So we might see someone with a three-bedroom semi in Ballincollig realising they will get a modern house on an acre in a good area in west Cork.”

Fellow Skibbereen auctioneer Maeve McCarthy echoes Maguire, though she stresses most of those seeking to live permanently in west Cork already have links with it.

Skibbereen auctioneer Maeve McCarthy: “We’ve ... had a change in people buying holiday homes. Before, people might spend two weeks and weekends at the holiday home. Now, they stay for the summer.” File photograph: Emma Jervis
Skibbereen auctioneer Maeve McCarthy: “We’ve ... had a change in people buying holiday homes. Before, people might spend two weeks and weekends at the holiday home. Now, they stay for the summer.” File photograph: Emma Jervis

Prices are up by a fifth on early 2020, she says. “We’ve also had a change in people buying holiday homes. Before, people might spend two weeks and weekends at the holiday home. Now, they stay for the summer.”

In Co Kerry, as in much of west Cork, the shortage of houses is fuelling demand, says Killarney auctioneer Tadhg Gallivan, who says the town is “crying out” for new homes.

Pressure

“Houses are like hens’ teeth here. We just don’t have enough. You always had a market in Killarney [with] Kerry people retiring here from Dublin and Killarney would be their first port of call.

“We still have those, but now you have the pressure of people wanting to work from home. I recently had two engineers from Killarney working in Cork coming back here to buy.

“They’re not all cash buyers, mortgages are involved but often those wanting to move here are better paid than the locals because a lot of the work here is seasonal, so they stand a better chance.”

In Galway, auctioneer Shelagh McGann says families who were “a little congested” during the pandemic now want more space, inside and out: “Office space is becoming a huge thing in buying a house now,” she says.

Kildare auctioneer Will Coonan says a world where people can work two or three days a week at home will spur demand in commuter towns, such as Naas and others around the capital.

The pent-up demand left by 18 months of restrictions is fuelling viewings, says Naas auctioneer John Fitzsimons. “Irish people like to view, as opposed to virtual view.

“With people having good broadband and not needing to be in Dublin and focusing on quality of life, I think people are deciding, where possible, not to be in Dublin.”