Review of the year

It was the year the market finally picked itself up off the floor — hopefully.

Six years into the downturn, the year 2012 may well go down as the property market’s turning point, though more likely the pivot will be a wider one, possibly the two-year span 2012/2013 before stability really returns — though who fears to speak well of any year ending in the number ’13?

Among the slew of negatives, and debt mountains, some positives began to finally emerge as the country and economy battles back. Though it played a huge part in the problems which caused the home-grown end of the economic crash, the restoration of a functioning property market is essential for everyone — the Government, and its coffers, its agent NAMA, and home owners and sellers, for mobility and for greasing the wheels of the economy.

Through several months of 2012, Dublin recorded a slight pick-up in house values, though it dipped marginally again in November. The word in Dublin, in many parts of Cork and other ‘strong’ locations expected to lead a recovery is that demand is up, supply of good stock is tight, and sales are moving.

Nationally, sales fell from a barely ticking over 20,000 in 2010 to a low of 18,000 in 2011, and finally picked up a tad in 2012, with a likely end-year figure closer to 19,000 sales. Dublin led the way, with this year’s hard-won deals likely to surpass sale volumes in the capital for both 2011 and 2010.

The latter half of 2012 especially saw a good deal of activity at the lower end of the market, as first-time buyers (FTBs) strove to avail of an end-of-year cut-off for quite valuable mortgage interest relief, worth up to €15,000 for some buyers over four more years. Its replacement in Budget 2013 with three-year reliefs from the new property tax is of far less value to buyers — perhaps around €1,200, all-in.

So, given that surge, 2013 may well, in comparison, start off sluggishly at this end of the market which drives activity further along the chain. Investors last year made up only 10% of sales, but may play a bigger part next year as good rental stock is further off-loaded. For buyers in the coming year, long-overdue legislative changes will make purchase choices more transparent as momentum hopefully is maintained.

First up, compliance with the ‘new’ Building Energy Rating (BERs) is to be more strictly enforced, from January 9, with the rating certificate having to be included in any advertising for properties for sale or rent. More significantly, the impact of the new Property Price Register which came into force in September (and which only dates back to 2010) will be a boon, allowing access to a swathe of hitherto confidential information about how much houses are selling for. The site’s had almost 500,000 hits to date. Good as it is, the information needs a bit more contextualising: it doesn’t include land sales, and it discounts values of land sold with country houses.

As home-owners look to the register to assess values for the new property tax by May, they’ll need to take care. Many quiet locations have had no comparable sales at all in the past year or two; not every house in an estate has a similar value, even if ostensibly the same. Factors like orientation, site size, condition, upgrading all come into play, so astute buyers will have to factor in all the variables.

Also bringing transparency to the market has been the slew of auctions over the past few years, much of it distressed assets; a clear-out of the more problematic sales has clearly commenced, and will certainly gather pace in 2013. Whether banks and other agencies flood the market at the first sign of liquidity, and drag it back down, is a matter for concern.

Sales in Cork, and Munster, over the €1m figure were rare in 2012 (see across), but trading activity in the upper-mid market was surprisingly active for good stock in favoured settings. Agents such as Cohalan Downing in Cork recorded around 15 sales at over €500,000, such as a tired five-bed at Hillsboro on Model Farm Road for €580,000, and a period semi on College Road for € €505,000, with high viewing levels at a Hettyfield, Douglas home, which sold for €425,000, €30,000 over its guide.

Agents Frank V Murphy & Co reported similar strong mid-and upper market deals in Cork city, saying volume was up 23% on the previous year, and predicting similar pent-up activity against an anticipate shortage of good supply in 2013.

Some top sales of 2012: Munster’s Best

€3.7m-plus. Seamark, a 200-year old period home on five acres, with views of Glandore Harbour. The seven-bed home went for sale in March 2007, guiding €6m after a multi-million euro makeover. Buyer has Irish roots. Sold via Charles P McCarthy, Property Price Register says €3.7m, but this may not cover additional land, or contents also bought as part of the deal.

€2m. Woodhouse Estate, Stradbally, Waterford. Once viewed by Michael Jackson, Woodhouse was cut from €6m to €4m in 2009, and the €2m price shown on price register may not include the estate lands.

€1.78m.Winterwood, on c three acres in Adare Demesne, Limerick. Built by Limerick developer Robert Butler, this 16,500 sq ft mansion once had faint hopes of a €12m sale, but a deal is recorded on the Property Price Register early in 2012 for €1.78m.

€1.7m-plus. The Arts and Crafts-style Windyridge on three acres in Douglas/Rochestown had its sale finalising this month via Sherry FitzGerald, Cork. It went for sale in May, guiding €2.25m, and is likely to be making a half a million under its guide.

Circa €1.7m. Raffeen, Kinsale. A quiet, practically off-market deal, this 3,500 sq ft six-bed Georgian home with water frontage, in Scilly, Kinsale, had a €1.75m guide with Michael H Daniels, and made close to this.

€1.6m. The Paddocks, Douglas Cork. 3,300 sq ft top-class suburban scheme Cork home, three years on market seeking €1.6m. Sale stamped and recorded in Property Price Register at that sum, but possibly a family/company or even pension transfer.

€1.5m. Stoneacre, Kenmare. Ten-year old, world-class bolthole ‘bungalow’ on over two acres above Kenmare, sold by Savills and Sherry FitzGerald Daly for under its €1.8m guide after a year on the market, likely to be around €1.5m all-in, but the price register records it at €1.25m.

€1.47m. Killarney. No 3, Ardagh, Loretto Road, Killarney is a modern 4 ,000 sq ft home in a gated development. Sold off-market.

€1.125m. Pebble Beach, Ardmore, bought in 2007 for over €4m. Re-sale closed late 2012 for €1.125m, agent Brian Gleeson.

€1.05m Ballybrack House, Douglas. Sale recorded early in Jan 2012, but reported in these pages last year at €1m-plus, via Savills.

OVER €750,000:

€975,000. Lindisfarne, Model Farm Road. Sold via Frank V Murphy & Co, had been guiding €1.5m in spring 2010.

€974,000. Tullyhill,Sandycove, Kinsale, a four-bed dormer that was guiding €1.6m in 2009.

€877,000. Casino House, Kilbrittain (asking €970,000 via Engel and Volkers).

€850,000. Treetops, Summercove, Dominic Daly.

€836,000. Summerville, Ardbrack, Kinsale, 3,100 sq ft architect-designed contemporary home, via Savills and Sheehy Brothers.

€800,000. Mount Prospect Villa, Scilly, Kinsale, Dominic Daly.

€797,000. 3 Kilconor, Bishopstown Avenue, Model Farm Road. New-build, A-rated, Timothy Sullivan & Co.

€775,000. 25 Hayfield, Model Farm Road, 2,700 sq ft five-bed, Sherry FitzGerald.

€750,000. 10 Court Cairn, Model Farm Road, Cork. Five-bed 2,700 sq ft, selling agents Cronin Wall.


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