Good broadband boosting area’s appeal, writes Brian Moore.
The property market in West Cork is showing signs of a slow and steady increase in prices achieved but the region is divided when it comes to increasing the numbers of available units, especially when it comes to the rental market.
In general house prices in the south west are up 3.1% to July 2019, with the towns of Bandon and Clonakilty showing steady sales and homes in and around these towns realising average prices of from €220,000 to €250,000.
“Within walking distance of the town and surrounding villages sale prices in the sub €300,000 [price range] have held steady,” Clonakilty auctioneer, Martin Kelleher of Martin Kelleher Property said.
“Above this price level and for rurally located properties, we have noticed properties taking longer to sell, which leaves a vendor with the dilemma to wait longer for their price, or take a price drop, which most of the time in this area leads to a sale.”
With Cork City within commuting distance, and with a substantial number of local employment opportunities, both Bandon and Clonakilty are also able to offer potential buyers the bonus of good infrastructure, both with roads and broadband connectivity, while also offering the lifestyle benefits of living along the Wild Atlantic Way.
However, rental opportunities in these towns and the surrounding hinterland are few and far between. Martin Kelleher explains: “There is little rental availability in our area. Our office rental transaction figures are down 30% on last year, which was down on the previous year. People are staying longer in their rental property for fear of paying a hike in the rental price elsewhere.”
In Bandon, Mark Kelly of Property Online is reporting a steadying of prices for homes both in and around the busy crossroad town and says prices have now stabilised but will continue to grow albeit at a slower rate.
Once more it is Bandon’s location and accessibility to the city that is a major factor for buyers looking for homes in this area. Unlike other areas of West Cork, there are also a number of new developments planned or already underway in both Bandon and Clonakilty.
“Here in Clonakilty we will be launching a brand-new development ‘An Sruthan Beag’ in Clogheen, Clonakilty, with 99 houses by HB Developments and built by Michael Dempsey Construction. This is the first large scale development in the area since 2007. There are several other projects in the planning stages as well,” Martin Kelleher says.
In Bandon, 19 existing homes were sold in August 2019, the most in a single month since data started being collected in 2010. And while there are several new-build projects at different stages of development planning restraints are having a detrimental effect.
“There are several land banks currently zoned in the Bandon area. However, the planning process and the recent An Bord Pleanála decisions to increase densities (to double the density) of a particular land bank on the outskirts of the town and to insist on a planning permission/house type that is unsalable in this location is forcing the developer to design/apply for a permission that is unsalable. This in my opinion is a very serious problem and needs action immediately,” Mark Kelly says.
However, for towns and villages further West, both along the coast or inland the market is slow and in places stagnant.
“Currently three-bed semi-detached houses are selling for between €180,000 to €200,000 while two-bed apartments are achieving €100,000 in the Skibbereen area,” says Maeve McCarthy of Charles McCarthy Estate Agents.
According to CSO figures there are more than 6,000 holiday homes in Co Cork, the majority of which are located in West Cork, Maeve has seen continued strong interest in the second home market in and around coastal villages such as Baltimore and Schull.
However, while the excellent broadband connectivity within Skibbereen, has provided the town with something of a boom in the availability of high-quality jobs, this increase in employment opportunities has not translated to new housing developments in the area.
“We have not had any new home scheme builds in the Skibbereen area since before the recession due to lack of demand and the current prices achievable do not warrant such developments,” Maeve said.
Meanwhile in Bantry houses prices are holding steady with reports of sales in the €150,000 to €200,000 range on par with 2018. However, there has been a cooling in the numbers of potential buyers from the UK who are nervously awaiting a clear outcome to the Brexit crisis.
“We have seen the number of houses coming on to the market at about the same level as 2018 with sales holding steady,” says Denis Harrington of Harrington Estates Property Services in Bantry.
There has been no new developments in the Bantry area for over 12 years, a situation that is not going to change anytime in the near future, according to Denis.
“At the present time the rental market in Bantry is in short supply, with demand increasing all the time. However, with no new construction on the horizon the availability of rental units will remain very low. I do believe that if we could get Brexit behind us the future property market in this area would improve substantially.”
With almost 10,000 UK expats living in West Cork this uncertainty has had a knock-on effect since 2016. And on the Beara Peninsula, JJ O’Sullivan, developer and estate agent in Castletownbere, is reporting little change in prices or sales of homes in the area since 2018. “It is slow, but the second home market especially with sea views is steady,” JJ O’Sullivan said.
“As to new developments apart from the one-off housing market there are no new housing developments on the Beara. While one-off homes builds are busy, the cost of materials and subcontractors is extremely high and is a major limiting factor in the area.”