Kinsale remains an address with great appeal

Even an outlier property market as strong as Kinsale’s isn’t immune to the worries and woes over Brexit, its potential economic and employment impacts, and consequently on the property market also.

The selling year so far bears some quiet lulls and pick-ups across Irish cities, and despite its international cachet, Kinsale’s market is no different: it’s still getting regular listings of some very high-end homes, and consequent deals if buyers reckon prices are reflective of underlying values locally.

Thankfully, it isn’t all ‘just’ high-fliers and multi-millionaires buying and investing: the market’s also pretty notable for the positive impact of new home stock, in not just one but several locations, having a definite impact on stock and supply, with ‘product’ only recently available to families on ‘reasonable’ incomes and who want to live in a somewhat enviable coastal ‘lifestyle location,’ at the start point (or, end point) of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Of late, buyers from the UK might be a bit battered and bruised from the relentless Brexit blarney, bluster, and even fear of what Boris might do if he perpetuates talk of a no-deal departure from the EU and this neighbouring isle.

Sterling doesn’t quite carry the clout it did a few years ago when buying in Euroland, and with some dip in London sales, a place like Kinsale will get a downwind reaction, naturally enough.

However, there are buyers casting eyes over Kinsale from places far further afield than London and the rest of the UK.

There are returning Irish from overseas, from spots like South Africa, which is very strong right now, says Kinsale agent Josie Dinneen, as well as from the southern hemisphere, the Gulf, and the US.

One Irish ex-pat, working in the financial services and shipping sectors based for several decades in the Carribbean, has holidayed in Kinsale on and off for years, and late last year he paid €2.55m for a contemporary one-off called Corafinne, on a hill in Kinsale’s Scilly, via agent Ron Kruger of Engel & Volkers, who also sold a period original Georgian, Scilly House, behind this sharp design, for €1.5m.

The Price Register shows four Kinsale sales at excess €1m during 2018, with one agreed at Ardbrack at a reported €2.2m still not showing up on the Register, and overall there have been at least two dozen €1m-plus transactions since it started records from 2010.

Remarkable, there’s no other Irish town or community, coastal or otherwise, bar those which are effectively suburbs of Dublin, that can make a boast in terms of big sales such as Kinsale can do.

In fact, when even many cities weren’t selling top homes for million euro or multi-million euro sums post crash, Kinsale was doing the business: 2012 was the only year it didn’t have at least one €1m-plus deal, and for several years it was a Munster leader in terms of big attraction, pretty all of it, money from abroad.

Of course, ‘asking’ isn’t alway ‘getting,’ and Kinsale has quite a few high-hope homes resting unsold on the market for a number of years.

Just because websites like Myhome and daft currently list 12-14 €1m-plus properties with a Kinsale address doesn’t mean that they’ll get what’s been sought: the market is discriminating, naturally, and some will linger, while others will get price drops. The luckier ones might just get what they are asking for.

Key selling points are pretty much unchanged to what they’ve been for years, and decades. Water views? Tick? Water frontage? Tick, too.

Aspect and proximity to the town? Tick and tick again. Ardbrack, Scilly and Compass Hill have ticked the top Kinsale address sales for years, and walking distance to bars and restaurants is a plus, invariably carrying the price premia.

Interestingly, two of the latest and very largest Kinsale sale listings are well outside the town. Walton Court at Oysterhaven is a large period home, with water frontage and a range of c a dozen high-end rental houses included in the entire package, guiding €4.25m via Cohalan Downing and Colliers.

On the far side of Kinsale, beyond Sandycove and its island, is Avalon, a contemporary architect-designed c3,100 sq ft four-bed rural one-off, with sea views, which came to market this month with a €3.1m price quoted by Sherry FitzGerald: could the Kinsale price ‘halo’ effect ever stretch this far out, half way between the town and the Old Head golf course, for what would be a record selling sum in about a decade?

Currently, the Kinsale residential market lists 120 properties for sale with a Kinsale address and that’s up from 99 this time last year, so there is literally a 20% increase in houses (generally excluding new builds), offered for sale in the wider catchment.

By way of stark contrast, there’s less than a dozen Kinsale properties listed to rent, ranging up to €3,000 a month, and the cheapest is a two-bed, at €1,000 a month.

This time last year, we noted just nine rentals being offered with comments made then that Airbnb had strongly and negatively impacted on the longer term rental sector, and also made it harder for workers in the town’s hospitality sector to get accommodation, a complaint shared by other busy tourism towns such as Kenmare and Killarney.

Going back to the Price Register, it records 151 Kinsale sales for the full year to the end of 2018, and that compares to 158 sales in 2017, 126 in 2016, close to 2015’s 127 sales, after a big jump into triple digit numbers from 97 in 2014.

At market lull, around 2010 and ‘11, sales were in the 50+volume bracket, so there’s nearly been a three-fold lift in close to a decade.

Driving activity have been new home launched like Cumnor Construction’s Convent Garden, with 58 houses and 26 apartments, coming along after the sold-out Cluain Ard’s selection of 27 houses, done by Centurion Homes.

Kinsale Manor
Kinsale Manor

But, by far and away the largest impact has come from the mid-market Kinsale Manor development by Gannon Homes, who are building 136 houses, serving a hungry market and finding buyers that include FTBs, traders down, relocaters, investors and holiday home purchasers.

Some 90 have now been sold, since the first phase launch back just in August 2017, says Rachael O’Leary of Sherry FitzGerald, and the most recent release saw a further 100 viewers turn up for launch of the first four-bed model.

Twenty Kinsale Manor houses were released, and 14 of them were swiftly sold, with prices of €400/€405,000 for four-bed semis of 1,367 sq ft, while four-bed detacheds of 1,560 sq ft sold at prices from €495,000 to €525,000.

On the wider front, the arrival of over 200 new builds to the Kinsale market in the past three years has helped temper the demand/supply balance, and check prices, for existing older housing stock, as many buyers opt for A-rated new builds, and as first time buyers also only quality for the Government’s Help to Buy scheme for new house builds.

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