House prices set to rocket in outer commuter belts
Shortage in Dublin is forcing desperate buyers to seek homes as far away as Laois and Longford
Dublin's outer commuter belt is next in line for a major house price hike as desperate buyers are forced further and further away from the capital.
The quest for an affordable new home is now snaking ever deeper into other counties.
First-time buyers, in particular, are willing to swap extra-long commuting times in return for a house which could be less than a third of what it would cost in the capital.
Estate agents in Longford, Kilkenny, Wexford, Offaly, and Cavan all report unprecedented interest from potential buyers based in the greater Dublin area.
Portarlington, in Co Laois, is among those towns attracting particular interest.
In 2015, there was a dramatic increase in the value of sales in the county, which rose by 29pc to almost €81m.
And the price for "middle range" houses also rose strongly last year - up over 26pc, or €23,000 - to €110,000.
This was the second highest growth rate in Ireland last year.
Local auctioneer, Paul Kelly from DNG Kelly, says the main towns in the county, such as Portarlington and Portlaoise, are proving popular, particularly with those trying to get a start on the property ladder.
"In the past 12 months we've noticed a growing number of people, mainly first-time buyers, who work in Dublin, relocating to Laois.
"Some have one or two young kids but the move is now seen as a viable option. The opportunity to commute by train is a huge attraction - there's an hourly service to Dublin which takes about 45 minutes.
"Stock levels are low at the moment, but house prices have definitely increased over the past year. The main areas of interest in Portarlington are along Station Road - not far from railway services.
"Houses around the Dublin Road and the Abbeyleix Road in Portlaoise are the most sought after.
"I sold two houses yesterday to families who work in Dublin and live in Kildare. They can no longer afford the cost of accommodation so they've decided to move to Laois.
"It's not only people from Dublin relocating to this part of the country. Couples who now can't afford prices in the counties immediately surrounding Dublin are also moving out."
The average cost of a three-bed semi-detached house is approximately €130,000, he says, while a four-bed would set a buyer back some €150,000."
Parts of Longford, meanwhile, remain among the least expensive locations to buy a home anywhere in the Republic.
Despite being approximately 73 miles from the capital, Frank Greene, from Frank Greene Property Sales, says first-time buyers, and those renting in Dublin, have now set their sights on the 'outer commuter belt'.
"A trend has started with young people buying here and taking the train each morning to work in the capital.
"They may have been renting for many years, but rents are now ridiculously expensive in Dublin. This means couples simply can't afford to save so they're moving to the midlands. It's not a major influx just yet, like it was back in the boom, but the trend is definitely making a return.
"People are commuting from Edgeworthstown and other locations close to the train station. Property is extremely cheap here."
However, he says while first time buyers can snap up a bargain, the daily commute can take its toll.
"It can be tough for some people because they have to get up at 6.30am to get the 7am train to Connolly station.
"They arrive in work at 9am, and when they get out of work at 5pm, they face a train journey home. It's particularly hard on families. It also takes about an hour and a half to drive into Dublin.
"Three-bed semis cost about €80,000, while a four bed is priced around €100,000. A four-bedroom detached house on a half-acre site would cost between €150,000 and €200,000."
Rental costs rose 3.5pc in Offaly last year - with increases in Tullamore and Banagher leading the way.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Hilary Hamill, a partner in Sherry FitzGerald Lewis Hamill in Tullamore, said they've sold a number of homes located within walking distance to the train station.
"Some of our clients are first-time buyers who were renting in Dublin but who simply couldn't afford prices in the capital. Proximity to the railway station is a priority for buyers. There's an excellent train service from Tullamore and it takes about an hour to get into the city. There are a lot of people who make the daily commute."
Meanwhile, house prices in Kilkenny are back to 2011 levels - with an increase of more than €20,000 in the median price of properties sold in the county last year.
But in a further sign that the "outer outer" commuter belt is attracting increasing attention, Monaghan saw the third highest rate of increase in average house prices last year - up almost 21pc, or €17,500 to €102,500.