Carlow: Carlow's best since 2007 as Dublin commuters return
It has been the busiest year for the Carlow property market since 2007, according to local agent Harry Sothern of Sothern Real Estate Alliance who reports numbers of buyers returning home from Canada and Australia and looking to acquire property with savings built up through their time spent working abroad.
The agent also reports the re-establishment of buyers with plans to commute to and from Dublin. This had slowed as the recession hit and died off completely around 2011/2012, when those working in the capital discovered they could get better value on its fringes.
But now three-bed semis in Carlow are half the price of Naas for an extra 25-minute journey time down the motorway. These factors contributed to a very active year.
"While it has certainly been our best year since 2007, we're selling at much lower prices obviously, but activity levels have been very high."
Carlow has a highly rated Institute of Technology which has always had an influence on the property market there. In the boom investors were rampant buying, flipping and holding for longer term investment. This resulted in a high number running into trouble and many stressed sales in recent years.
The high exposure to investors meant Carlow was worse hit than Kilkenny or Naas in the crash and many repossessions, which have only been processed of late, have kept prices down. There was no building activity in 2015 and there's unlikely to be much next year either while the selling of repossessed property continues.
"This is an ongoing process," says Sothern. "It's not finished, it's continuing, and will go on into next year as well. So while our prices are increasing, they are not increasing at the same level as they are in neighbouring counties."
It means you can still buy a good-quality two-bed apartment in Carlow for as little as €70,000 or a three-bed semi for €140,000.
"Prices are beginning to creep up and we recently sold a three-bed semi for €164,000, which is probably the highest prices achieved for a three-bed in Carlow since 2009."
And while family and investment properties are strengthening, the top end of the market in Carlow is still hanging extremely low. "If you look to Kilkenny or Kildare, you're looking at prices that are 40-60pc higher," says Sothern.