Some housing developments coming on stream, but at a slow pace, writes Helen Kelleher.
Property prices were up between 5% and 10% in east Cork last year, with three-bedroom semis priced at around €230,000 compared to €200,000 in 2017. Midleton, home to the Jameson whiskey distillery is the east’s property hotspot followed by Carrigtwohill, Youghal, Cobh and Whitegate.
Auctioneers say a lack of supply to the housing market is the biggest challenge and while some new housing developments are coming on stream, supply is not meeting demand in the busier towns like Midleton and Carrigtwohill.
Youghal incurred the highest price rise in Cork in 2019 with house prices there 24% higher in the first part of this year according to research carried out by property search engine Perfect Property which features properties from a range of estate agents including REA, Knight Frank and REMAX.
Cobh saw a 2% increase in the average sold prices, the survey found, while according to the CSO, Cobh had a median price of €211,500 in the year to August with first-time buyers making up 41% of the transactions.
In Midleton, the CSO said there was a median property price of €235,000 in the first eight months of the year, which while more expensive remains below the national average of €255,000. Typical prices in east Cork, depending on location, are estimated at €290,000 to €320,000 for a four-bed semi-detached house and €390,000 for a four-bed detached which would represent a €50,000 increase on 2017 prices.
A two-bedroom apartment in Midleton, for example, can now fetch around €160,000 compared with €120,000 two years ago. Tourism plays a part in east Cork but commuters are interested in Midleton, Carrigtwohill and Cobh for their direct rail links to Cork City.
Shane Russell of Russell Estate Agents Ltd based in Midleton says new housing developments are urgently needed to meet demand and he said the under supply is driving up prices and having a serious impact on the rental market.
Two-bed apartments in Midleton he said are commanding record rents of €1,200 a month and one-bed apartments fetching up to €1,000 a month. Typical three-bed semis are renting he said for €1,350 to €1,400.
“It is much cheaper to buy such properties and pay a mortgage on them. I have people in three-bed semis who want to move to four-bed semis or detached properties, but they are not available.”
Cork County Council recently unveiled a 20-year development plan for land between Carrigtwohill and Midleton, identifying 14 privately-owned sites that have the potential they said to provide up to 2,500 houses in this area.
County councillors rubber-stamped initial plans to open up land at Waterrock, 23km east of Cork City which they said will initially provide the infrastructure to create 525 new houses. Although acknowledging these developments will boost the area, Shane Russell said towns like Midleton and Carrigtwohill need residential developments to begin now if they are to tempt buyers from Cork City into east Cork as the city looks set to continue to expand with lots of commercial and office buildings underway.
“While there are some new housing developments in Midleton (including Glenveagh’s development at Maple Woods, Castle Rock Homes’ at Blossomhill and Hallmark Developments’ Rock Brook at Baneshane) Mr Russell says building needs to begin on landbanks zoned for residential development around the town.
While infrastructure and water treatment continues to be an issue he said the roadworks at Lakeview roundabout should at least help to ease congestion at the Whitegate/ Cloyne end of Midleton. Johanna Murphy of Johanna Murphy & Sons estate agents based in Cobh, says the town is now a great tourist destination and alot of her buyers are from outside Cobh.
Ms Murphy says Cobh has transformed from a working town which was severely economically depressed not so long ago to an increasingly popular tourist destination and its rising profile is making it attractive to overseas buyers.
“Cobh is definitely on a crest of a wave. It has direct rail and bus links to the city, it has a history of attracting overseas visitors and continues to do so with a hectic visiting cruise liner schedule. Its tourist attractions continue to expand with Spike Island making it into the grand finals of the World Travel Awards,” she says.
James Colbert, of Colbert & Co estate agents with offices in Carrigtwohill and Midleton say there is huge demand for new houses.
“People like the lifestyle that east Cork offers. They have access to excellent schools, live near glorious beaches, great shops and restaurants and a 20-minute train journey to Cork City.
We have buyers but what is frustrating from our end is that some housing developments are currently on hold because of a lack of progress with the water-treatment plant and poor infrastructure”. Martin O’Farrell of John O’Farrell & Sons estate agents in Midleton says east Cork properties benefit from connections.
“Proximity to the rail line aids in promoting sustainable transport modes and reducing car dependency which is what we all want. All my family used the train service growing up and still use it for work allowing easy access to shopping centres, to colleges and it makes east Cork an attractive place to live.
“There is a certain amount of uncertainty now with Brexit but prices are still holding their own. Families are buying here plus young couples who can get a two-bed apartment for €150,000 to €180,000 depending on its location.”