Made in Munster Property Guide: New build shortages drive prices up in Co Clare

Made in Munster Property Guide: New build shortages drive prices up in Co Clare
Ennis was named Ireland’s Tidiest Large Urban Centre in the annual National Tidy Towns Competition. Picture: Eamon Ward

Asking prices in Co Clare have soared in the last year but a lack of new builds and issues facing first-time buyers have slowed down the market. The demand for homes in towns such as Ennis remains strong, with commuters to Galway, Limerick and Shannon eyeing it up as an ideal base.

The long-term picture is positive as new developments are approved but Brexit uncertainty has cast a shadow over segments of the market, specifically the holiday house buyers in coastal areas with the UK market all-but evaporated.

According to MyHome.ie’s most recent analysis of the property market, asking prices in Co Clare have risen by 12% in the last year. The report, issued in September, said that the average asking price in the county is now €200,000.

There was broad differentiation at different levels in the market: two-bed apartments were selling for €95,000 in comparison to €160,000 for a four-bed house, for example, but there is a general increase in asking prices on an annual basis, though this was slowed by a decline from quarter two to quarter three.

This was reflected by a recent analysis by the Real Estate Alliance (REA), which reported a 2.7%decline in the last three months when focused on the price of a three-bed house.

Liam Browne of REA Paddy Browne in Ennis said:

We are beginning to see the market stagnating due to uncertainties

The average three-bed semi-detached house in Clare is currently on the market for €180,000, and the time taken to sell has risen by a week this quarter to 10 weeks. In Ennis, the average value of properties sold in the year to date was €190,000, according to data from the CSO.

The profile of buyers in the area matched trends evident elsewhere in the country: first-time buyers were responsible for about almost one-third of sales, with existing house owners on the move accounting for the biggest segment of the market at 51%.

Among the standout issues is the lack of new builds, an issue that is evident elsewhere. At no point in the last two years has the number of new builds sold in a single month reached double digits. In fact, as far back as January 2010, this has only happened three times: in September 2010, December 2014 and January 2015.

New builds remain slow all over the country, an issue illustrated in the latest CSO Property Price Index, but it is a significant factor in the market in Co Clare. The existing stock market is much healthier in Clare.

In Ennis, there were 63 existing houses sold in August (compared with nine new builds), and these figures have remained strong since the start of 2018, with the exception of April, when just 24 houses were sold. Despite initial fears of an issue in the market, this has proven to be an aberration.

The Kilrush Eircode area, V15, saw a median price of €115,000 in the year to August. In comparison to Ennis, which incorporates the most populous urban area in the county, Kilrush includes the coastal area and many smaller towns.

  • 12%
  • asking price rise in Clare in the last 12 months
  • €200,000
  • the average asking price for a home
  • €180,000
  • the median price for a three-bed, semi-detached
  • 72
  • homes sold in Ennis in August 2019, the strongest month since November 2016 (73)
  • €115,000
  • median Kilrush house price to August 2019

As a result, the profile of buyers is quite different: just 10% are first-time buyers, for example, while almost two-thirds represent former owner-occupiers moving home. About 32% of sales were for non-occupiers, including investors and people buying second or holiday houses to lease out, which is a major indicator of the strong holiday house element to some of the towns in the area.

Current listings reveal a lot about the market in Co Clare, too. There were more than 300 properties listed for sale during a recent search on MyHome.ie, almost one-sixth of which were in Ennis alone. Newmarket-on-Fergus, located 13 km from Ennis, 8km from Shannon Airport and 24km from Limerick, accounted for a significant number, too.

As early as the start of 2018, estate agents were warning of shortages in parts of Clare, in particular in Ennis. It is a popular choice for people working in the employment hubs along the M18, specifically Shannon, Limerick and Galway. This, combined with a shortage of new builds, was driving prices upwards,particularly at the lower end of the market.

The sub-€200,000 segment saw significant amounts of activity in 2018 as locals and others priced out of the nearby cities flocked to the town. Unsurprisingly, it was the three-bed semi that was the most popular, though there is some interest in bigger properties too.

The completion of new estates would help to drive further change in the market, with new builds currently about 10% to 15% higher than second-hand properties. In March, planning was sought for 68 houses on Tulla Road, Ennis, while a 148-house development near the Beechpark roundabout on the Ennis relief road would be a significant addition to the town’s stock too.

One element of the market where there is uncertainty is in holiday houses. For many years, UK buyers accounted for a large percentage of purchases in areas like Lahinch.

With Brexit uncertainty, this has died off to a large extent, but renewed interest from purchasers in the US market has helped to soften the blow. Asking prices in Co Clare have soared in the last year but a lack of new builds and issues facing first-time buyers have slowed down the market.

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