Kevin O’Neill says sales of houses are down in most categories in the Kingdom.
The UK’s impending departure from the EU has had an impact on the property market in Co Kerry, making a big dent in the sale of holiday houses in particular. A lack of developments throughout the county is causing problems too, with first-time buyers struggling all over the county.
According to MyHome.ie’s latest Property Price Report, the number of properties sold in the county dropped off significantly in the first half of the year. There were 633 sales in the first six months of the year, a decline of 22.8% in comparison to the first six months of 2018.
It was by some margin the biggest decline in Munster, with Limerick (down by 4.6%) seeing the second-biggest drop. The average asking prices in the county overall did not change, according to the report, though there was an interesting quirk in that the average price of a four-bed property in Co Kerry soared.
There has been interest in areas like Aghadoe and Innisfallen in Killarney, while one-off developments are also proving popular, and this has fed into a price increase. The average four-bed jumped by 13% in the last year to €260,000.
In contrast, nine counties saw the average price of a house drop and just Dublin, Longford and Limerick saw a greater increase than Kerry. The Central Statistics Office analyses property prices in Co Kerry on the basis of Eircode areas. There are three areas covered in its report: Killarney, Tralee and Caherciveen.
Among the most evident trends in each of the areas is the issue facing first-time buyers. In the Killarney area, first-time buyers accounted for 22% of sales in the year to August. This number is outweighed by non-occupiers and investors, who account for 26% of sales in the first eight months.
Of the 265 completed sales in Killarney during the year, 236 were for existing houses with an overall median price of €207,250. In Tralee, the picture is a little more difficult for first-time buyers: they accounted for just 19% of sales in the year to date, with non-occupiers accounting for 30%.
In Caherciveen, the Eircode area which covers the south of the county,including Dingle, first-time buyers were responsible for just 10% of sales. In comparison, non-occupiers accounted for 47% of sales, exceeding the owner-occupier segment too.
It is an unusual circumstance: in almost every other part of the country, the former owner-occupiers are the biggest segment of the market. A clear trend in all parts of the county is also the lack of new properties being sold.
In Killarney, fewer than 30 new properties have been sold in 2019 to date. In contrast, 35 secondhand properties were sold in July 2019 alone. In Caherciveen, just three new properties have sold in the year to date, and in Tralee, it is fewer than 20.
An analysis of the market by the Real Estate Alliance focused on the sale of three-bed, semi-detached properties throughout the county. It found that houses are taking longer to sell and that the market has been relatively slow.
“Sales are very slow and viewings are well down due to Brexit uncertainty,” said Donal Culloty of Real Estate Alliance Coyne and Culloty in Killarney. “There is a shortage of new houses in the area and no new developments have commenced.”
The price of an average three-bed semi in Killarney was static this quarter at €270,000, with the average time taken to sell fixed at eight weeks. In Tralee, there is “not a lot happening”, according to Eddie Barrett of Real Estate Alliance North’s.
He said in terms of new builds, most projects are one-off houses, though there is a sign some activity may be picking up as builders eye up some sites. He said:
“But the semi-detached market is picking up substantially. A standard semi-detached is now in the €170,000 to €175,000 region, and some would be as high as €200,000, which is roughly where things were 10 years ago. It is not quite the level of Killarney, where there are shortages in some areas and properties are going for €250,000 upwards, but it is a move in the right direction.” he said.
Tourism remains a major driver of all industry in Kerry, including housing. Brexit has been a particular issue in this regard, undermining visiting tourists but also essentially removing the prospect ofthe British buyer from the market.
Mr Barrett said that enquiries from the UK are non-existent now.
“You always had people who had lived there for 30or 40 years looking to come home,” he said. “But now they haven’t been able to sell their own properties there and that means the enquiries aren’t even coming in,” he said.
It is an issue in areas like Dingle and Kenmare too, though there is still some demand as investors eye up the lucrative Airbnb market for tourists coming from other parts of Ireland and the continent.