‘Big bucks’ buyers land serious spoils

Tommy Barker says the familiar addresses, predictable locations pulled the big money out of the bag in 2018. Here are the tops...

Carrickfern, Glengarriff sold by Engel & Volkers for €985,000, within weeks of going to market.

Even though 2018’s property market in Munster was slow getting going, and ended the year even more sluggishly, with the mid- to upper end of the market going into a definite lull due to a dip in economic confidence, there were, it seems as many ‘Big Bucks’ buyers for the premium product as in the past year or two, post-recovery.

Despite expectations garnered from what felt like a flat year, there were a tad more €1m-plus private homes sold in Cork city and county in ’18, above 2017, among the 5,600 2018 sales overall.

And, once again, it was the familiar, almost predictable locations and addresses that pulled the big money out of the bag.

Kendal, Maryborough Hill, Douglas, made €1.455m via Cohalan Downing.

At least two coastal Cork house deals tipped over €2m (neither yet on the Price Register,) one in Kinsale’s Scilly, the other in Schull’s Colla Road, while Limerick’s high point was an Ennis Road period house, Springdale, at €1.3m.

In Kerry, a surprise turns up on the Price Register, it’s Glounagillagh House, on 11 acres on Caragh Lake, which had been on the market in 2014 guiding €1.65m. It sold several years ago for €1.495m, and since upgraded shows up in a 2018 Register highlight, at €2.178m, but is understood to have been a family transfer, not a third-party sale.

Caveat, clearly: perusing the Price Register necessitates a bit of caution, as some sales are merely asset transfers within a family, or from an individual to a pension pot, or vice versa.

Similarly, while being hugely informative (and revelatory) the Register only records the value of a particular property on a single acre, and so country estates with land don’t generally have the additional land value recorded.

River Bandon’s , Ardnacarrig is a 2018 seller via Savills at c€1.6m. Its tech millionaire buyer also bought West Skeam Island.

And, bulk-purchases of apartment blocks or grouped houses distort the numbers, and often turn up with a single address, not identifying the number of actual properties in any one transaction.

Cases in point include mentions of the Elysian, getting entered twice, once for €67.7m with an address as 1 The Elysian, and again for €69.87m, listed as No 182.

The entire Elysian with c 210 apartments sold via Lisney and Savills for €87.5m, which included its commercial/retail elements, and was sold by Blackstone and purchased by Kennedy Wilson, who did a late-year deal on the block’s former ACC offices, to the OPW, bringing its rent roll from this one asset to c€5.5m a year.

Also big block sellers were City Square, in Watercourse Road, with 125 apartments listed under three block addresses, going to a British fund who are making waves in Cork, totalling €27m, via Savills (commercial units sold there aren’t on the Register) while Coldwell Bank got €5.25m for an apartment block of 55 units at Camden Quay, in a deal which totalled €6.8m adding in some commercial space.

One variant of the Price Register shows 27 Cork residential transactions over €1 million, of which we reckon a dozen are genuine, individual property, third party transactions.

A number of the year’s strongest sellers have yet to surface on the Register.

These include Cork’s biggest sale, that of the architect-designed Corafinne in Scilly, Kinsale, a stunner of a 3,000 sq ft four-bed home maximising its harbour setting and views. It was sold by Ron Kruger of Engel & Volkers, and had been a year or so on the market, and it made €2.55m, to a Cork buyer based in the Caribbean.

Cork’s biggest sale, the architect- designed Corafinne in Scilly, Kinsale, a 3,000 sq ft four-bed home, sold by Engel & Volkers, for €2.55m, to a Cork buyer based in the Caribbean.

This ‘Top Sale,’ just over the €2.5m mark, earned this reporter a single, solitary €1 in an Irish Examiner bet with a colleague, who believed it would never get anything like its €2.75m asking price: yes, we’re big spenders too.

The same E&V agency also sold Scilly House, a Georgian original just above Corafinne in an off-market deal in 2018. Scilly House shows on the Register at €1.5m, and Engel & Volkers also tipped over the €1m barrier to sell Brizay House, a modern construct on Kinsale’s Compass Hill, and it shows at €1.1m.

Mr Kruger’s successes stretch to Glengarriff, in West Cork, where he got €985,000, bang on its asking price, within weeks of going to spring market, for Canadian-Irish owners of a house called Carrickfern. On seven acres, it had previously sold in 2012 for €530,000, and received a major upgrade afterwards.

And, in between the wilds of West Cork and Kinsale, Engle & Volkers also sold the charming period home Milton House, and 40 acres, for €1.525m, for a local veterinary and cattle breeding family.

But, that wasn’t Bandon’s biggest deal: agent Catherine McAuliffe of Savills got a deal done at €1.6 million for the 200-year old River Bandon beauty, Ardnacarrig House.

Set on Schull’s Colla Road, the former home of the late businessman Bernie Cahill made €2.2m via James Lyons O’Keeffe.

Ardnacarrig stretches to 7,500 sq ft, in mint order, on 19 acres with gate lodge and was the pristine, superbly conserved private home of hotelier Tom McCarthy and family.

It had been two years on the market, having initially launched at €2m in summer 2016, and its fortunate new owners will be enjoying its grounds as the town’s flood relief works finally inch towards completion.

While Ardnacarrig’s buyer’s identity isn’t publicly confirmed, sources indicate the buyer is a particularly low-key Munster multi-millionaire. And, it transpires he not only has a feeling for riverside properties, he also loves the sea.

So, as well as Ardnacarrig, this low-profile entrepreneur is also the new owner it is understood of West Skeam island, in the heart of Roaringwater Bay, reached variously by boat from the likes of Baltimore, Schull, or Ballydehob.

This private island extends to 33 acres, with decent pier/jetty, has the ruins of a 10th century chapel on it, and a trio of sensitively upgraded cottages, in a courtyard cluster.

West Skeam was another slow-burn of a West Cork property: it had actually been on the market with Charles P McCarthy in Skibbereen since 2013, when it arrived with a price tag of €1.5m.

The island’s vendor was another IT- entrepreneur, Leonard Donnelly, and was much-used by the family, who had a period house up the River Ilen and who commuted from ‘main’ house to ‘island home’ by RIB.

Springdale, Ennis Road, Limerick sold for a reported €1.3m by DNG Cusack Dunne.

The price paid for West Skeam isn’t confirmed, and agents McCarthys declined to comment on the reported deal, or to confirm the buyer’s identity. But it’s ‘just’ another chapter in a so-special West Cork setting: previous owners of this honeyed parcel of accessible island included the celebrated ‘lateral thinker ‘ Edward de Bono, and before him, US artist Charles Turrell, the creator of enormous art and groundworks, with a local example being Lissard’s ‘Sky Garden.’

Not too far away in Roaringwater Bay, meanwhile, another sale of scale also made waves among an elite business set.

The former family home of the late renowned businessman Bernie Cahill, Cuan Bán on the Colla Road in Schull sold during 2018, in jig-time, via local Schull agent James Lyons O’Keeffe.

Mr O’Keeffe had been guiding €1.5m for Cuan Bán, a 3,800 sq ft detached on 2.8 acre with pier/boat derrick, and two bidders went hammer and tongs for it.

Between them, they pushed the price up to €2.2 million, and victorious on this coastal swoop was Cork city businessman Chris Dineen.

Coincidentally, the same Mr Dineen also featured in these very pages this time a year ago. Back in 2017, he bought Sherwood, the former family home of Peter and Margaret Barry on Cork city’s Blackrock Road, for a recorded €1.52m.

Top Cork city seller Ardnagreenea, Blackrock Road, sold via Frank V Murphy & Co for €1.5 million.

Sherwood adjoins his own mid 2000s-built Blackrock Road home, reportedly done at a cost of up to €5m.

That Barry family estate sale of Sherwood in 2017 came ahead of further related ‘18 Barry/Clune family property sales on the elite Blackrock Road, where it’s understood MEP Deirdre Clune and her husband Conor sold their own family home for €1.5m this year, off market.

It’s likely to have been sold by agent Dennis Guerin of Frank V Murphy & Cork, as he also sold three Blackrock Road sites (two of them for the Clunes) for individual homes during the year, at prices from €500k to €590k.

Top/comparable seller during 2018 on the Blackrock Road is the Edwardian period house Ardnagreena, opposite Cleve Hill. It went to market guiding €1.275 with Frank V Murphy & Co MD Dennis Guerin in May, and was bid strongly, likely to show soon on the Price Register at just under €1.5m, and was bought by a family trading across from Rochestown.

The year ends with several prime address Blackrock Road houses unsold, some after a year or even two years on the market. One that did transact for a seven figure sum was Rose Lodge, which shows at €1.25m and which had been quietly marketed by Casey & Kingston.

Further downriver than Blackrock, but imperiously looking over Cork harbour towards Blackrock village and the Marina, was Dunsland, a period home, courtyard, wooded grounds and former garden centre plus lodge, bought by the members of the Hegarty family of local property renown.

On a hill between Glanmire and Glounthaune, Dunsland shows on the Price Register at €1.22m, but when the land (50 acres) is added in, the whole deal done by FVM’s Dennis Guerin came to €1.8m.

Back in the ‘burbs, Douglas’ supper end sales stayed below the top prices over in Blackrock, both in value and volume terms. Top seller there, via Malcolm Tyrrell of Cohalan Downing, was Kendal, at Oakwood, off Maryborough Hill. A top-end, c 3,000 sq ft five bed, Kendal made €1.455m according to the Register.

Dunsland House and 50 acres by Glounthaune, Cork, made c €1.8 million through Frank V Murphy & Co.

Also in the same price region is Ashton, Hettyfield, off the Well Road in Douglas, a detached marked at €1.4m on the Register: it hadn’t been openly on the market, and last transacted back in 2006 at €1.3m/€1.4m, in pre-Register days.

Sources say it may be a private transfer of sorts, and associate that house’s owners to another, multi-million euro mansion being built close by, possibly the largest new home to be built in Cork suburbs in decades.

Back on the Well Road, Cohalan Downing’s Mr Tyrrell also sold a do-er up Well Road house, Kelvin, for €805,000, and that’s notable as it’s across the road where the sale of three new-builds at Greenbanks are now on the 2018 Register, one in May at €768,000, and two in late November, at €552,000 and €706,000, and those prices exclude VAT and in at least one case, less site costs, selling via Casey & Kingston.

A deal rumoured to be in the €5-6m bracket is in the wings for early 2019, on a truly plum-set West Cork waterfront home, offered privately, part of an executor sale, so that may well be the big headline maker in the pages in a year’s time, and possibly several times in between also.

Excluding that one-off so, the biggest seller in 2018 and just closed out prior to Christmas was Corafinne, a superb-architect designed home in Kinsale’s Scilly.

West Skeam Island: guiding c €1.5m thru’ Charles P McCarthy, and bought by the same buyer of Bandon’s Ardnacarrig, pictured left.

Nipping at Corafinne’s heels was Seascape, an Ardbrack Kinsale home, which launched in ‘18 with Johnny O’Flynn of Sherry FitzGerald, guiding €2.45m, and making around €2.2m to an Irish buyers, yet to appear on the Register. Sherry Fitz also sold The Boathouse, Scilly, for €825,000 and 2018 ends with several other €1m plus Kinsale sales in the wings.

Deals that did crop up on the Register included the Arbutus of old, in Montenotte/St Luke’s Cross, sold by tech investor Sean Keohane, a period home and one-time famed Michelin-starred hotel: The reduced-in-scale Arbutus made €1m, and its surrounding land was bought as part of a related transaction, with c 16 upmarket new-builds set to rise there from 2019.

Also sold north of the Lee, and with an historic food connection, was Dalymount House, Strawberry Hill, above Sunday’s Well.

The 3,700 sq ft period and one-time home of the butter merchants the Daly family went for sale in 2016, guiding €1.4m with Irish and European, and shows now on the Register at €1.125m.

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