Wealthy Irish coming home and buying big

THE RETURNING Irish, who have made their money abroad, are under-pinning the Irish country house market.

That’s according to niche country market specialist estate agent Michael H. Daniels, who notes that four of his recent Munster sales have been to the ex-pat market.

Mr Daniels got between €1 million and €1.5 million for top country homes in counties Cork, Waterford and Tipperary, and these sales come as celebrity Graham Norton concludes his protracted purchase of Ahakista House beyond Bantry for close to €1.5 million through Skibbereen agent Charles McCarthy.

According to Michael Daniels, there is now a clear sign of a pick-up in the market following a downturn in 2001 and 2002.

His recent deals, now all concluded, include: Glenbeg House, an immaculately restored 17th tower house on 20 private acres near Lismore in Waterford for over €900,000, Garranlea House in New Inn, South Tipperary on 24 acres for close to €1 million, Aghinagh House in Coachford, Co Cork (the former family home of noted horse trainer Fergie Sutherland) for over €1.3 million, and Rathcoursey House, near Midleton and East Ferry in Cork. This pristine period home on 30 acres made about €1.5 million. All four were bought by Irish people living abroad, returning or looking to return, in the next few years to Irish shores.

“The country house market has now made a full recovery from the doldrums experienced during the 2001 and 2002, where prices were marking time and buyers were wary to commit. 2003 saw a return of confidence to this sector, with domestic and overseas purchasers starting to look again at property in the €1 milion-plus region,” said Mr Daniels. “Prime country and costal properties that are realistically priced will sell well this year. We estimate growth should show double figure returns, but further acts of terrorism in Europe could jeopardise all markets,” he warned.

Right now there’s a shortage of prime period properties on land close to cities. “Buyers will have to change their expectations and look further afield, or face a wait of three to four years just to have the opportunity to bid for the right house, often with frenetic bidding between buyers up to the last,” he claimed.

On the upside, improvements in roads and airports “will open up areas further in inland.”

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