Made in Munster Property Guide: North Cork picks up steam with buyers priced out of city

Made in Munster Property Guide: North Cork picks up steam with buyers priced out of city
Mallow’s Thomas Davis Plaza. Residents are attracted by the train commute to Cork. Picture: Denis Scannell

Prices are on the rise, but North Cork still offers good value for money, writes Helen Kelleher.

Following years of inactivity, prices are on the rise in north Co Cork as Mallow, Fermoy, Charleville, and Kanturk finally experience some long-awaited economic recovery, attracting buyers priced out of Cork City and the more expensive, built-up suburbs like Ballincollig and Carrigaline.

The market has been especially busy in Mallow and Fermoy in the north-east due to their proximity to Cork City, but also because of their amenities, with Mallow just a 20-minute train journey from the city, and Fermoy having an excellent motorway.

North Cork offers good value for money with houses often as much as €10,000 cheaper than similar houses in Cobh or Midleton. The price of a three-bed semi in Mallow town is priced around €222,000 versus €190,000 in 2017 and around €195,000 versus €165,000 out of town. A four-bed semi in town cost around €245,000 in 2019,versus €210,000 in 2017.

Average house prices in Fermoy do not differ that much from those in Mallow. The average house price in Fermoy in 2018 is listed at €195,644 and average rent at €1,000 versus €195,511 in Mallow and average rent at €1,041.

Charleville, the second-largest town between Limerick and Cork offers good value, with second-hand two-bed apartments available for €90,000 and second-hand three-bed semis around €155,000 or second-hand four-bed semis around the €180,000 mark. In Kanturk, second-hand two-bed apartments sell for around €80,000, second-hand three-bed semis for €170,000, and second-hand four-bed semis for €190,000.

  • €195,644
  • average house price in Fermoy (2018)
  • €195,511
  • average house price in Mallow
  • €170,000
  • average three-bed semi in Kanturk
  • €180,000
  • average four-bed in Charleville
  • 192
  • homes developed in Clonmore by O'Flynn Construction

While Mallow’s property market has benefited from the town’s proximity to Cork City, property prices in the less accessible north Cork towns such as Newmarket, Buttevant, and parts of Kanturk, and in areas off the beaten track (ie not on the roads leading to Cork City) remain low.

John Singleton of Sherry Fitzgerald O’Donovan in Mallow says the market picked up once credit became available again and buyers looked for good value. He found significant price increases in 2018, as much as 15-20%, but this didn’t transfer into 2019 and he said sale prices are still a long way behind prices in other towns within a 30km radius of Cork City.

North Cork, he said, took longer to find its feet and only just saw a turnaround in 2017 with an increase in activity in Mallow, partly due to its amenities, newly regenerated river walkway and short commute to Cork City.

Auctioneers based in the town say that supply is not meeting demand and they say new builds and a significant housing development is very much needed for 2020. Acute needs for housing in Mallow in the recent past meant proposals for a 149-home development at the Spa Glen area of the town was fast-tracked by An Bord Pleanála — work is currently ongoing on the social aspect of this development.

O’Flynn Construction’s Clonmore development of detached and semi-detached houses in Mallow was put on ice after the crash — but it is now finished off, with its remaining stock sold.
O’Flynn Construction’s Clonmore development of detached and semi-detached houses in Mallow was put on ice after the crash — but it is now finished off, with its remaining stock sold.

Permission was granted for another 108 detached, semi-detached and terraced houses at Clonmore, Ballyvintner Lower, and for nine detached houses at Amber Wood on Navigation Road.

John said, however, that the increase in building costs means it’s not financially viable for some developers to build three-bed semis in Mallow at the moment when they could make €300,000 for the same product in Midleton or Carrigaline. And he said buyers are looking for A-rated houses and the older stock (ie houses with a BER rating under C) are a much bigger challenge to sell.

William O’Connell of O’Connell Auctioneers in Mallow said there are very few new homes being built which is a shame as he said Limerick and Cork commuters are using Mallow as a base, as couples are often split between working in both.

“There have been a number of sites bought up over the last five or six years however price levels are not at a level where builders are able to come in and build. There has been a softening of the market since June, with viewing numbers and sales down often to only one buyer for a house,” he said.

Sarah O’Keeffe of O’Keeffe REA Charleville says her catchment area is experiencing a significant shortage of supply, too.

Buyers are looking for well-maintained properties are often content to pay an extra €20,000 for a well-presented house rather than have to carry out work on ex-rentals themselves. Many work and want to live in Charleville with jobs at Munster Joinery, Kerry Group, Dawn Meats, and in manufacturing companies.

John said a growing number of tenants in north Co Cork are seeking to buy because an exodus of landlords from the rental market two years ago has driven up rents for remaining stock. A semi-detached home in Mallow that costs €1,000 a month to rent would cost €850 in mortgage repayments. As a result of that demand, prices have risen for affordable properties.

A mortgage for a typical €200,000 house is around the €900 mark. You can expect to pay maybe €60,000 more in Midleton or Carrigaline, where four-beds are closer to €240,000 and €245,000.

Peter Barry of Liam Mullins in Mallow says there is also demand from English and European buyers, many of whom have discovered parts of north Cork through fishing or walking by major attractions in the area.

“From Mallow you can head for Kerry in one direction or towards the lush Blackwater Valley to pretty villages like Castletownroche and Ballyhooley in another. Doneraile is extremely beautiful and Doneraile Wildlife Park on Turnpike Road, a 410-acre, 18th century landscaped park is a great place to visit and enjoy. Doneraile is a very attractive town, popular with retirees and with families looking for a good lifestyle”.

While there is a current shortage of supply in both new homes and second-hand homes, John Singleton said a new housing development is imminent for Mallow.

O’Flynn Construction, he said, were committed with Clonmore — a resurrected development of detached and semi-detached houses that was put on ice after the crash — but that is now finished off, with its remaining stock sold.

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