Thursday 29 September 2016

Burkeway scheme targets pent-up demand in Galway

Maoilin, the first post-crash Galway new homes development, launches two phases together in response to demand. Liadan Hynes reports

Published 10/04/2016 | 02:30

Maoilin, Ballymoneen Road, Galway
Maoilin, Ballymoneen Road, Galway
Kitchen/dining room at Maoilin, with double doors to the good-sized rear garden

'In general, buyer demand in Galway is huge," says Niall Browne of O'Donnellan and Joyce Auctioneers. The first phase of west Galway development Maoilin, by Burkeway Homes, 13 units of which launched last autumn, sold out in hours, with the second phase of 20 units, launched in November, selling within weeks. The waiting list for the final phase numbered 262 people.

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"Shortage of supply," says Niall Browne. "There are people who can't get a secondhand semi-detached house. There wasn't anything built in seven years. There are growing numbers of people who have been renting all along. They want to get a family home together, stop paying rent and get a house under their feet."

So far, Burkeway has sold off plans and this weekend's launch is the first to have a show house. Such is the demand that they have expedited the launch of phase four, so both phases three and four are launching, bringing to completion the 73-unit development. A total of 32 units come to the market this weekend; three-bedroom semi-detached, 109-113sqm, from €265,000; four-bedroom semi-detached 121-128sqm, from €305,000; and four-bedroom detached, 130sqm from €350,000.

They are currently applying for planning permission for approximately 30 further homes on the site, which is bordered on two sides by green fields. This will bring the development to a total of 103 units.

"We were clear when we were designing the scheme that this needed to be phased," says Fred Fullard, director with Michael Burke of Burkeway Homes, of their original uncertainty over what sort of take-up the project - the first new homes development in Galway since the crash- would see.

"Myself and Michael would have been quite cognisant of the fact that we were very unsure of what the market would do when we got back into it. So the development would have to lend itself to being phased - and finished appropriately if, for instance, we could only sell the first two phases.

Situated on elevated land in Knocknacarra (Cnoc na Cathrach, the 'City's Hill') with beautiful views of Galway Bay, the area is one of Galway's more mature suburbs, roughly 5km west of the city. Maoilin is on the Ballymoneen Road, which runs south to north. The site had two previous planning permissions on it, with Burkeway Homes applying for new planning permission in line with the post-crash market.

"What myself and Mike wanted to do was provide something that was slightly lower-density, which we knew the consumer was looking for. We had planning for 147 units on the same scheme, so we significantly reduced that.

"We worked intensely on this around 2010, 2011 and got permission in 2012, always knowing that the market was coming back to something a little bit more owner-occupier, rather than investor.

"Given the way prices had gone, we understood that various different factors would have impinged on us developing what we had," he says of the original planning permission for town houses with a mix of apartments. "First of all, the consumer wasn't really looking for apartments. And probably won't be for a little while in that area.

"What was big for us was detached and semi-detached homes, your own parking, your own access to your back garden and good amenity space," says Fred Fullard. "Obviously, you've to build something that you can sell. That's where the market is at the moment, certainly in this part of Galway."

The development in its final incarnation is mostly three- and four-bedroom detached and semi-detached homes, with some two-beds."We agonised over the design of this, because we had time to agonise over it. We knew we wouldn't be breaking ground for some time.." The site includes four-bedroom detached, four- and three-bed semi-detached, and two-bed semi-detached, situated around a central green area, all with a BER of A2-A3.

The houses come with fitted kitchens, en suite bathrooms to the master bedroom, spacious utility rooms and good-sized gardens. Clever use has been made of natural light, with large windows in the downstairs hall. The area is well serviced with schools, sports facilities, and shops.

Buyer demand is strong partly in response to the dearth of homes available in the area, one of Galway's largest and most popular residential suburbs. Buyers so far have been split between mostly first-time buyers and those with young families trading up, with one or two investors.

"It's a young demographic," says Fullard. "Thirty to 40-year-olds. Young families. Not necessarily all first-time buyers but there are a fair chunk of them in the first phase."

"Buyer confidence has come back pretty much since January. We are a year behind Dublin and Cork in a sense," reflects Browne.

Where: Maoilin, Ballymoneen Road, Galway

Price: From €265,000 to €350,000

Viewing: Today, 2-4pm

Agent: O'Donnellan and Joyce (091) 564 212; Sherry FitzGerald (091) 569 123

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