Despite some absolute stunners coming to market in Cork, at €2.75m (Ellerslie in Douglas) and €3.8 million (Woodlawn in Sunday’s Well), not a single, solitary Cork City home appears to have broken the €1m threshold in the year just ending. Over 260 Irish houses topped €1m in the 10 months to October - but less than 20 were outside Dublin.
There, top seller for 2014 was a Blackrock home, Deepwell, making €7.9m via Sherry FitzGerald, who also got €6m for Blessingtown, Co Wicklow estate, Boycestown House, the most expensive country sale of the year.
Cork had four €1m plus sales in the year, three in the county, and the city one that surfaced on the Price Register was an old sale from ’13. Admittedly, one city home - a new build - came within a whisker of the Big Note, at €993,000, while West Cork and Kinsale once more topped Co Cork’s top prices paid, with a duo just a bit shy of €2m. The €1m-plus barrier was breached in Co Kerry’s Caragh Lake, in Waterford’s Portlaw, and Limerick’s North Circular Road.
The lack of €1m-plus Cork City sales is a bit of a surprise, given that several Cork city homes had made €1-2m in the preceding several years, when confidence was way lower. It’s been put down to lack of supply of really good homes, appropriately priced. The more upbeat appraisal of recovery seems to be in the mid and upper echelons of the city, with clusters of sales in the €600k/€700k bracket, and just a handful over €900k. Top seller was an A-rated modern build, 1 Kilconnor, off the Model Farm Road, one of four 3,200 sq ft homes built on Highfield Avenue. It was the last to sell (to medics), for the strongest price, making €993,000 via Timothy Sullivan. Making €935,000 was the 2,800 sq ft Edwardian semi-d called Arigideen, on the leafy Marina, having been a spring launch with Sherry FitzGerald at €950,000 - and who later got the adjoining semi-d to sell as well, pricing that at €995,000: it’s currently under offer.
On the main Douglas Road Lisney got a super-swift sale agreed on a modern build, which soared past its €795,000 guide, to top €900k, making it the third strongest city sale of the year.
Strongest Cork results were out in the county and coastal, repeating the pattern of previous years: top seller for 2014 was The Pallisades, a c 5,000 sq ft luxury build at Ardbrack, turning up low-key on the Price Register at €1.95 million, having been put up for sale way back in 2008 with agent Dominic Daly then guiding €5m... so it was a slow burn. Hardly by coincidence, it’s a close neighbour to Fastnet House, Ardbrack, Cork’s top seller in 2013, at €3m. Other Ardbrack ‘Kin’-sales include The Brambles, making €1.35m, and Clonard, at €1.1m, while across Kinsale Harbour Beacon House on Compass Hill made €820,000.
The next biggest Cork sale was a contemporary cracker, again with coastal setting, Glasheenaulinn, a 5,000 sq ft private home, on 39 acres near Castletownshend. It sold via Skibbereen-based Charles P McCarthy and Maeve McCarthy, jointly with Catherine McAuliffe of Savills. making €1.85m.
McCarthys also had another West Cork top result, getting €1.7m for Violet Garden, a stunningly set modern Glandore home, bought by Stephen Vernon of Green Property, one of Ireland’s most canny property investors.
Nearby too, Glandore’s Shorecliffe owned for decades by Tony O’Reilly found a buyer for c €1.75, likely to appear on next year’s price register. Savills surfaced again over the county boundary, in Kerry this time, where jointly with local agent Edmund O’Donoghue they sold the Germanic 1970s Glounagillagh House with indoors swimming pool, on 11 landscaped acres: it made €1.29m.
Also nudging the €1m mark, in Dingle, was Emlagh House, which got overseas interest as a private home, via Sherry FitzGerald Daly. It was bought for continued guesthouse use by a local investor, minus contents and artworks.
Over in Limerick, best city sale was the Georgian Kilmoyle House, holding up values on the perennially popular North Circular Road. A former Bishop’s house acquired by developer Aidan Brooks with acres of development land, Kilmoyle sold in 2014 for €1.1m, in a private deal.
Elsewhere in Limerick, Adare continued to prove the old adage about location, with 69 The Village Adare making €510,000, and 68 Adare Manor fetching €400,000. Of course, the big one is Adare Manor itself, understood to be close to being sold for over €30m via CBRE to a certain Mr McManus.
One of Waterford’s strongest sales was the period and Suirside home Holmacre, which we reported here last year, but only turned up on the register in 2014, at €730,000, but top honour goes to Woodlock House, Portlaw, at €1.1m. Ardmore’s The Cottage, Dysert, sold for €535,000, and the 1760s period home Blenhelm House sold for €600,000.
Back in Cork, shortage of supply of good trading-up stock was the order and the complaint of the day, meaning lots of viewings and bidding on the better-located product. Just as the €1m threshold proved elusive in the city, even the number of sales over €800,000 mark was fairly scant. Perhaps it was reductions in income among medics, but for 2014, the €750,000 threshold was even quite an achievement for agents and vendors to hit.
One off-market sale was Emarue, in ‘old’ Endsleigh Park, Douglas, at €820,000 on the Register and sold by Dennis Guerin of Frank V Murphy. Across the city a similar era home Hillview, in Bishopstown Avenue, fetched €750,000 with Sherry FitzGerald (they report having 18 Cork sales over €500k in ’14),who also got €775,000 for Balbridie, a large one-off above the western suburbs, at Meaghers Lane, Spur Hill.
Houses within developments fared well in the upper-middle market, such as Cois Chuain in Glounthaune, with sales in the €675,000/690,000 bracket for modern detacheds, while the Paddocks in Maryborough Hill had several sales in the €600,000-747,000 league, with Cohalan Downing.
Not being of detached status didn’t dissuade, as seen in the afore-mentioned Arigideen sale on the Marina at €935,000: another example was Trasna, a superbly upgraded Victorian semi-d on the Cross Douglas Road, making €715,000 via Rose Property Services, while in Ballintemple, the mid-terraced Georgian home Madore made €700,000 with Sherry Fitz.
Munster Rugby players seemed to favour the Blackrock suburbs with several household names going in search of possession, and Peter O’Mahony acquired architect-owned Tenby Cottage, Castle Road, for €640,000 via Tim Sullivan, while Cohalan Downing got €682,000 for Mahonville, a Georgian semi-d nearby. It too was architect-owned, by Bill Brady who - by coincidence - had one of his house designs at Castlerock, Carrigaline, a 4,400 sq ft detached called Guyscliffe, sell in late 2014, for €725,000.
Savills had a good run, in and around the Douglas Road, selling The Elms, a bungalow on the junction with the Rosebank estate, for €770,000, and next door after several years on the market, Villa Franca, a former engineers’ office on private 0.57 acre grounds, also sold via Savills for c €550,000.
In West Cork, a 1,800 sq ft home 30 metres from Dereenatra beach, near Schull, had four viewers and three bidders and sold within days for its summer €750,000 asking price via James Lyons O’Keeffe and McCarthys. Bidders tried to gazump - but the vendor accepted the offer at the asking: “a gentleman,” notes Maeve McCarthy.
In shades of the boom, a feature of the property market in 2014 was the return of open viewings at houses in hottest demand: there were plenty of these open-house sessions to accommodate viewers and buyers who came out in droves. The reason was simple enough: shortage of supply, and this sheer lack of stock to buy also was the main driver behind price growth.
Having seen price recovery in Dublin two years ago, after a seven-year trough and slump (about the worst crash in the modern, western world,) stability spread beyond the Pale since 2012, and prices rose 17% nationally in 2014, from a vastly-lowered base.
The number of sales/transactions rose by 42% for the first six months of 2014, compared to the more nascent recovery the same period a year earlier when just 30,000 sales took place, representing a low of 1.6% of national house stock. Furthermore, a lot of those sales were either investment/istressed sales, or executor sales.
Yet, over a year and in a sort of pincer movement that underpinned price rises, the supply of houses coming for sale in Cork dropped by 22% from the 2013 figure, notes MD of Sherry FitzGerald’s Cork offices Sheila O’Flynn: “demand is improving but critically low supply levels are driving price inflation,” she asserts, adding that as a recently dysfunctional market returns to some sort of normality, 77% of buyers were owner-occupiers.
First-time buyers made up a quite low figure, put at 16% by Sherry FitzGerald. And, while Ms O’Flynn says that price growth and recovery “is not a bubble, nor another credit-driven property boom,” she adds that over 50% of deals hadn’t a mortgage attached.
“Demand is recovering gradually, reflecting the uplift in consumer sentiment and economic growth,” she says. While the outlook ahead “is somewhat challenging to predict” with uncertainty around the Central Bank’s proposals to limit loan to value and loan to income ratios, the constraints on supply are likely to mean rising prices, she believes.
Estate agent Brian Olden of Cohalan Downing also sees prices holding up, and increasing in cities like Dublin and Cork as “there’s practically nothing coming out of the ground, and only a handful of new homes will be provided around the city in 2015. By 2016, credit should have eased more again,” he holds.
The optimism is understandable given one of Cohalan Downing’s 2014 sales: a dated four-bed semi-d Villa Marie by Douglas village got an extraordinary 100-plus viewings after launching in April at €335,000. It sold for €387,000.
On the other side of Douglas, they had over 40 viewings on a Paddocks scheme home, and over 60 views on Fatima, a Cedar Avenue Bishopstown home.
In January, a Ballinlough semi-d got almost 80 viewings via Jeremy Murphy, guiding €285,000 and making €305,000. “When I saw those viewing figures, I knew things were changing,” he says - and went on to sell 30 starter homes on Curraheen Road in 2014.
Similar viewing figures continued as the year drew to a close with a Savills house on Buxton Hill, which went to market in November, guiding €325,000 and this week stood at 60 views.
Also getting over 100 viewings was a smartly extended three-bed semi in Marina Park, at the city end of the Blackrock Road, guiding €350,000. It’s at €370,000 now, after 106 parties came to view, though Sherry Fitz agent Ann O’Mahony admits “that’s not to say that all of them were intending purchasers - but it does reflect interest.”