Thursday 27 October 2016

Abbot's Grove targets new profile of first-time buyer

Knocklyon sees starter homes designed for long-term living.

Published 11/09/2016 | 02:30

Abbot's Grove comprises 88 units of family homes. Photos: Peter Moloney
Abbot's Grove comprises 88 units of family homes. Photos: Peter Moloney

'To be honest, we said we'd take a chance in 2015 because the prices were tight but we had to get going again if we wanted to stay in the house building business. You can't wait forever." After a seven-year hiatus, beginning in 2008, developer Francis Rhatigan relaunched his business early last year with a new phase of his sizeable project Dalriada in Knocklyon, Dublin 16.

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Dalriada is fully sold now and this weekend Rhatigan launches a new development directly across the road, but it had a shaky beginning.

Bright living room with double doors to dining room
Bright living room with double doors to dining room

"Initially, I was sorry I started. I thought, 'This is a mistake'. Sales were very slow to start. People were nervous. Money was hard to get. So it was very jumpy initially. When they brought in the new Central Bank rules, I think that unsettled everybody. Towards the end of last year, it improved a bit but initially I was thinking, 'God, what did I do this for?'"

This week Rhatigan launches Abbot's Grove in Knocklyon. The seven-acre site, which sits on the edge of the 365 contour line - the line that marks the limit for construction - comprises 88 A-rated family homes, mostly three- and four-bedroom. While the scheme is on the outskirts of Knocklyon, it sits within the boundaries of Dublin 16, which is important for eligibility for some of the area's popular schools. The development is lower density than anything Rhatigan has built elsewhere in the locality, and with far fewer of the smaller two-bedroom units - a reflection of current market demands. Essentially, these houses are an example of the new starter home.

"Everybody wants family homes now, they don't want starter homes," explains Rhatigan, referring to the traditional concept of the two-bed or small three-bed starter home. "The concept of a starter home and people saying, 'Well, that'll do me until I buy another one,' is gone. There are only eight duplex units, which are two-bedrooms, in the entire scheme."

Now, a first-time buyer tends to be older, possibly with a family of their own, and needs their starter home to be something they can live in for decades, if not forever, should the need arise.

Generous fitted kitchen
Generous fitted kitchen

"For me, there isn't really a starter home any more," says Ivan Gaine, head of new homes at Sherry FitzGerald, which is handling the sales of this development.

"I suppose the starter-home phenomenon was all around younger people buying with a view to appreciation."

These homes have many of the features the new first-time buyers require - decent-sized gardens, two parking spaces, separate utility rooms on many of the units, good orientation, with the majority of the gardens being south-facing, and access to a transport network; adjacency to the M50, and a well-serviced bus route. With a price point of below €500,000, the houses are the lower end of the middle market. Such houses tend to be located in newer suburbs, more likely to be populated by acres of large new homes development, and not necessarily near an older, established village. There is a small shopping centre within walking distance, which includes a Spar and a Lidl nearby, and Knocklyon SuperValu, which is the closest thing to a village in the locality, is roughly a 10-minute drive, as are the junior and senior mixed St Colmcille's schools, both of which have excellent reputations.

Completion on this site is due between September and October of next year, with the first houses ready from this November.

Adjoining dining room
Adjoining dining room

The more prestigious end of Dublin 16, Rathfarnham, sees another launch next weekend, with the first phase of Scholarstown Wood, Rathfarnham, coming to the market. Prices are yet to be confirmed, but this first phase brings approximately 20 houses to the market. In total, this large development on a 24-acre site will include 244 three-, four- and five-bedroom houses and 74 apartments, as well as a crèche and almost three acres of open space.

Price: Three-beds start from €369,000-€384,000; end of terrace units approx. 111sqm, mid-terrace units approx. 104sqm.
Four-bed detached units from €425,000 (140sqm).
Viewing: Today, from 2-5pm
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 667 1888

Sunday Independent

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