OVERSEAS investors from Russia and China are buying up both high and low end housing in Dublin, squeezing domestic buyers out of the market.
Foreign buyers have long been known to be investing at the top of the market in the capital, but it has emerged that they are also moving into the lower end of the sector to take advantage of low capital values and high rental returns.
According to international property consultants Extra Sales, buyers from both countries are flooding the lower end of the market, mainly because their children are studying here.
As well as this, Irish expats are selling off their homes in the likes of Turkey and Bulgaria and are returning to Ireland as cash buyers.
Those factors have effectively closed large sectors of the Dublin house market to domestic buyers, who are battling in the "squeezed middle" for suitable properties.
"Many of the buyers we are dealing with, especially from China, would have had little or no knowledge of the Irish market until very recently," said Extra Sales managing director Colin Horan.
"Usually it is because their son or daughter has come here to study and only then have become aware of the value that is available in Dublin. As a result they are buying houses for their children and taking advantage of the rental yields that are so high at the moment," he added.
Last year's visit by China's then incoming president Xi Jinping also served to catapult Ireland into the limelight in China, and has helped spark an influx of investment here.
There is a very clear divide between buyers at the top and bottom end of the market, said Mr Horan.
At the top, wealthy Chinese and Russians are focused on the well-known areas of south Dublin, with Sandymount, Donnybrook, Stillorgan and Rathgar proving especially popular.
An asking price of €1m is considered the minimum investors are looking for. Meanwhile at the other end of the market, buyers are looking at one or two houses close to university campuses available at very low prices.
In the last fortnight Chinese investors have bought properties at the Collinswood development in Dublin 9, and Royal Canal Park in Dublin 15.
Russian interest, meanwhile, has been accelerated since Russia's richest woman Elena Baturina bought the Morrison Hotel on the quays for €20m last year.
While Ms Baturina purchased that hotel as an investment and is not actively aiming the hotel at the Russian market, that sale was seen as giving a "blessing" to Dublin as a home for Russian money.
"Dublin is something of a hidden gem internationally but that is changing.
"We all know about the glut of international money that has gone into London but Dublin is getting some overspill thanks to our location, transport links, and value," Mr Horan said.