Overnight queues for chance to buy a house

More than 30 vehicles parked in the new Heathfield housing development in Ballincollig with occupants queuing overnight to secure one of the new homes when they become available at noon on Saturday.

In a throwback to the kind of scenes witnessed at the height of the Celtic Tiger housing bubble, wanna-be homeowners queued overnight in a Cork city suburb for a chance to buy a home.

According to eye-witnesses, as many as 35 people slept in their cars outside the newly-developed Heathfield Estate, in Ballincollig, last Friday night, for an opportunity to buy into the scheme, as part of a “third release” of homes.

Units released under the first two phases sold out and this third release, of 24 homes, included the unveiling of the estate showhouse.

The Irish Examiner reported recently that the development had attracted considerable interest, with 700 names registered on its website, and 40 sales already secured by the first week of April.

The 210 homes, by developers Murnane & O’Shea, are a medium-density scheme of three-and four-bed homes, most of them semi-detached, with prices from €325,000 to €375,000 to €515,000.

The demand is against the backdrop of the latest Daft.ie sales report for the first quarter of 2019, which showed that average house prices in Cork are now 60% higher than they were at their lowest point, in 2013.

The report showed that the average asking price for houses in the county had increased by 3% since the start of the year.

By the end of March, the average asking price in Cork stood at €226,728, up from €220,174 at the end of December.

Cork City remains, by some distance, the most expensive place to buy in Munster, where house prices have risen by a whopping 72.1% from their lowest point (or trough), in 2013, with the average price now €282,518.

Cork is not the only county to see the return of queues for homes. The scramble to buy at a number of housing developments in Dublin over the past 12 months has also seen overnight queues forming.

The demand for housing has built up over a number of years, as supplies dwindled after the economy crashed.

A report by the CSO in 2017, based on Census 2016, found that the country increased its housing supply by just 0.4% in the five-year period 2011 to 2016.

This is in stark contrast to the change in Ireland’s housing stock during the peak of the Celtic Tiger, between 2002 and 2006, when the number of units grew by 21.2%.

The number of people homeless exceeded 10,000 for the first time ever this year.

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