Monday 25 September 2017

They're back, cash rich and want a home

Returning emigrants add to housing pressure

'Returned emigrants - who have amassed significant savings - are proving to be another factor in pushing up prices, especially in a bidding war for a particular property' Stock photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire
'Returned emigrants - who have amassed significant savings - are proving to be another factor in pushing up prices, especially in a bidding war for a particular property' Stock photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

More than 400 of Ireland's 'Lost Generation', many with significant cash savings for a down-payment on a new house, are returning home each week.

And these returnees are another "pressure point" pushing up property prices to Celtic Tiger levels.

More than 300,000 emigrated in the years following the economic crash.

But the total number of people now coming into the country has increased by almost 15pc in a year, from 69,300 to 79,300.

The figure is currently estimated at 1,525 per week.

Latest data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveals the number of returning Irish people jumped from 12,100 to 21,100 in the year to April 2016. This is an unprecedented surge of more than 74pc.

Marginally more males than females have returned home. According to the CSO, almost 11,000 were men and 10,200 women.

It comes as the total number of emigrants declined over the same period, from 80,900 to 76,200.

Property experts say the numbers now returning to Ireland will put increased strain on an already dysfunctional house buying and rental market. Returned emigrants - who have amassed significant savings - are proving to be another factor in pushing up prices, especially in a bidding war for a particular property.

The UK was the most popular country of origin for returning Irish, followed by Australia and the US.

The remainder came mainly from Canada, New Zealand, Spain, France, and the United Arab Emirates.

Pat Davitt, CEO of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV), confirmed the numbers coming back to live here is another "pressure point" in an already erratic housing market.

He said: "Everywhere you go there are Irish people back home from Australia, America or wherever. There's no doubt there'll be more people returning, because there are more jobs available.

"When they're coming home to live in Dublin, where there's a shortage of supply, it's going to be a pressure point.

"Obviously people coming back to the city, where houses are scarce at the moment, is making a difference."

He said those aged between 35 and 50 are part of a sizeable cohort with significant savings to buy a home.

"Many of them have cash to help buy a property. Their aim was to leave Ireland, come back and buy a house."

However, he warned a significant number of returned emigrants will face a massive struggle to find a home, given the chronic shortage of supply.

"Down the country it's probably a bit better, but at the same time, there aren't many new houses being built.

"And they won't be built until such time as the price gets to a particular figure acceptable to builders."

Mr Davitt added that Ireland's economic recovery, coupled with employment growth, is likely to entice more of those who left Ireland to put down roots here.

He said if a construction programme suggested by the Government goes ahead, and as many as 35,000 houses are built, it could create between 70,000 and 75,000 jobs.

"That would also result in a considerable flow of people into the country," he added.

Reports suggest returning emigrants face various other obstacles apart from buying a home, such as finding a suitable job and schooling for their children.

They have also experienced difficulties with issues such as securing a no-claims bonus for car insurance or having their credit history recognised.

According to a recent study of Irish people who have recently returned from abroad, a desire to be closer to family is the most common reason given for moving back home, with 83pc saying that was a key motivation.

Also high on the priority list is the desire to bring up children in Ireland, along with homesickness.

The survey, conducted by Crosscare Migrant Project, a Government-funded service supporting intending and returning emigrants, found one in five expressed upset over leaving friends behind overseas.

One in four said they had only planned to live abroad temporarily, and this was their reason for returning.

A CSO spokesperson said the data currently available is preliminary and may be subject to change at the end of the month.

Sunday Independent

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