The prospect of a no-deal Brexit has led to a spike in interest from UK residents looking to relocate to West Cork, according to a leading property expert.
Skibbereen-based estate agent and auctioneer Charles McCarthy said while the initial Brexit vote, in 2016, led to a dip in the market from prospective UK buyers, interest has been reinvigorated since talk that Theresa May’s government may leave the EU next March without a deal in place.
Mr McCarthy, who is 50 years in business this year, said that UK residents are increasingly looking to relocate to Ireland to stay in the EU.
“Traditionally, the UK would have been a very strong market for us, but this has declined due to Brexit. However, interestingly, since talk of a no-deal Brexit has intensified enquiries have picked up from UK residents looking to leave and stay in the EU,” he said.
Prospective buyers from the UK and US largely depend on currency strength, while there has also been a surge in Chinese interest, Mr McCarthy said.
“Currency fluctuations tend to have a real impact on our business; when sterling and the dollar are strong, enquiries and sales to the UK and the US pick up significantly. We have also recently seen an increase in enquiries from the Chinese market,” he said. Despite the spike in overseas enquiries, buyers are still predominantly coming from within Ireland, Mr McCarthy said.
Planning permission red tape is among the biggest hurdles when it comes to house building, according to director at the firm, Maeve McCarthy.
“One of the biggest barriers is the planning permission process, something has to be done about trying to make the process more streamlined. The cost of building is also a factor and the lack of financing, especially for smaller building contractors,” she said.
Ms McCarthy said that improvements in infrastructure in Skibbereen has made it more possible to live rurally and work remotely and more flexibly. The town was a guinea pig for Siro, the joint venture between the ESB and Vodafone, in bringing 1 gigabit broadband speeds to houses and businesses to attract investment.
“In recent years, and especially as more people are going down the route of remote working in places like The Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen, West Cork is even more attractive to property buyers. The quality of life here is second to none; you no longer need to be in cities to have a thriving career and, with much shorter commute times, work/life balance is more achievable. To our clients, that is worth gold,” Ms McCarthy said.