Sold on the idea of good value at lower end of the property market

MARKET wisdom, and the recent clear evidence, is that the few house sales that are trundling on are dominated by the lower end price-wise and driven in the main by first time buyers. A few cannier investors looking to add value to cheaper properties are also in the mix.

Those indicative trends closely match reports from estate agents in the past month.

While the new homes market is not set for real recovery in any shape or form any time soon, secondhand values are now down so far that braver buyers can see real value — after all, they are down by 40% from peak, according to last week’s reports from Sherry FitzGerald and Daft, and by as much as 47% in Dublin.

Daft said 2009 asking prices fell 30% in Cork and Waterford, and by 25% in Limerick and put the average asking price of Irish homes at €240,000, down €107,000 from peak.

First-time buyers made up over half of the total number of buyers in 2009, rising from 38% in 2008 to 55% in 2009, according to Sherry Fitz, who added that 93% of all buyers were owner occupiers — so just 7% were investors, while 25% of vendors were investors/landlords.

About 22% of vendors sold to trade up, and 17% sold to relocate to a different county within Ireland, they added.

And, those patterns match the recent sales book of auctioneer Stephen Clarke of Cork city firm O’Donoghue Clarke, who had the satisfaction of hammering in a few sold! signs over the holiday period — and all were well under the €300k mark.

He had side-by-side sales of two very different types of homes on Cork’s Magazine Road: the two-storey, five-bedroom house St Bernard’s at 51 Magazine Road sold to a first-time buyer for about €285,000, well down from a original €450,000 asking price, and the house needs full renovation.

Right next door, on its right, the single-storey, three-bed bungalow Anntimedale which also needed modernisation sold to a woman who will also renovate and upgrade.

It had an original asking price of €350,000, and sold for about €100k less than that, leaving its new owner some cash for home improvements.

Both had been some time on the market, while quicker sales also in Cork’s western suburbs were 1, Roger Casement Park, gone sale agreed at about €240,000 just below its €265,000 ask, it is on a large-ish site and needs work. The purchaser was a first time buyer, prepared says Mr Clarke to do a full revamp.

Across the road, also in ‘patriotic’ purchasing territory, No 35 Liam Lynch Park, Glasheen changed hands late in 2009, also making a bit under its €265k asking and likely selling at the €240,000 range. It had been underpinned, but also needed modernising.

The buyer is an investor who sees a future rental return on his three-bed purchase.

Rounding up O’Donoghue Clarke’s sales list at year’s end was a two-bed apartment at 105 Ashbrook, Victoria Cross, making about €220,000 despite its brochure tag of ‘priced to sell at €285,000’.

It was bought by a professional for a college-going offspring’s use, and the four-five-bed dormer semi-d 1 Mount St Joseph, bought for around €200,000 by a first time buyer, down on its €225,000 asking price.

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