Country homes sought by ex-pats

Tommy Barker reports that an increasing number of sales are being conducted privately.

THE Irish country house market moved well through 2004, with returning ex-pats taking up the bulk of better buys - but many of their quality acquisitions were quietly picked up ‘off-market.’

With the traditional selling season now all but closed, country home sales specialist Michael Daniels said the Munster scene had been particularly active. “This year saw a return to full health, as confidence in top-end property, lacking in previous years, came flooding back,” he observed.

However, he also estimated that the number of country properties sold via the open market was down by as much as 40% over the last five years. That is due to what he said was “an increasing number of private deals taking place. It is quite possible that half of the sales this year have taken place via the private market.”

This can give the impression of a quiet market when in reality there has been a good level of activity, he said, adding “quality houses priced at realistic levels will find ready buyers.” Buyers, especially those returning from work abroad having built up considerable wealth, are out in numbers, and as a result there’s still an under-supply of properties. “The lack of supply has also created a certain amount of unrealistic pricing for available properties which has further frustrated active, but price-sensitive, purchasers,” Mr Daniels (who also has sourced houses for overseas buyers) claimed.

In common with other agents in this niche end of the market, he said that overseas buyers sought good houses, with acreage and privacy, within one hour’s drive of Munster’s main cities.

Recent sales by Michael H Daniels include: Brideweir House, Aghern, Conna, on 20 acres by the river Bride for over its guide price of €1.3 million, South Lodge, near Clonmel on 120 acres with equestrian facilities for over its €1.6 million guide, Seal House, on four acres in West Cork with swimming pool for over €1 million, as well as two West Cork mills, Dromore Mill near Bantry sold to a buyer back from the US for over €700,000, and a €1 million-plus sale is agreed on the waterside development Rineen Mills between Castletownshend and Skibbereen.

And, unconfirmed private sales include Ballygeaneymore House, Ballycotton for about €600,000, Oldtown House, Mallow for over €800,000, Ardnavaha House, Ballinascarthy near Clonakilty for c €1 million, and Curahoo House and 15 acres, across the Bandon river from singer Tori Amos’ country pile near or Ballinspittle, Kinsale, also about the €1 million mark.

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