Agent view: Country homes market slowly on the rise again
In reviewing the Irish period country house market, the variety of large houses with or without land available at the moment is quite surprising. In excess of the million-euro bracket there are over 30 such period properties on the market ranging from the magnificent Glin Castle in Limerick, Ileclash House in Fermoy and Castle Hyde in Cork at the pinnacle of the market, to the classical period house requiring total refurbishment and in some instances a rebuild, such as Bective Demesne in Navan and Ashfield Court in Laois.
The market for this genre of property is being dictated to by the unfortunate lack of qualified purchasers available. In many instances, it is a matter of a single party falling in love with a property and through close engagement with the vendor and purchaser agreeing a position resulting in a successful sale.
The country house market was without doubt the most severely affected by the financial collapse, with evidence of the savagery inflicted being expressed in terms of a 70-80pc decay. Nonetheless, every low has a high, and we are beginning to see a slow increase in superior properties in terms of quality of architecture, condition, location and amount of land attached to the house. All these factors are influencing how much of a return in value can be achieved, especially for a country purchaser. Where our city cousins are paying upwards of €500,000 for a 3-bed semi-detached, 97sqm property, this same healthy budget will get you a 5-bed detached, 395sqm property on a couple of acres - a lot more bang for your buck!
However, we must be cautious when discussing the country house market and comparing house sales in the urban realm. Some national commentary has described price increases in the order of 30pc, which usually applies to a more modern property on a reduced acreage of perhaps half-an-acre that has in competitive bidding risen from approximately €65,000 to €85,000. It is a more difficult to show the same uplift in properties valued above the €1m mark.
The property market has been a little sticky during the closing quarters of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016. There is a level of uncertainty which will continue until a new government is formed and the outcome of the Brexit referendum is known. As the market stands, I would make a call to all living in the city looking for exceptional value and aspirations for a classical country residence with some land: It's time to sell up and buy into the idyllic country dream.
Marcus Magnier is head of Residential, Development and Country Homes at Colliers