Saturday 21 October 2017

Height of Luxury: Growth in penthouse popularity

The master bedroom in the penthouse up for sale in Dalkey
The master bedroom in the penthouse up for sale in Dalkey
The living room in the Dalkey penthouse which looks over Coliemore Harbour
Coliemore Harbour

Donal Buckley

Millionaire home buyers have returned again to Dublin's penthouse market and a shortage of these top deck luxury homes have started pushing up their prices.

Currently three of these spacious pads are on the market with €1m price tags and at least one more is believed to be on the way in Ballsbridge.

Fanciful prices have often been attached to penthouse suites, and many such properties have remained on the market for years unsold, even during the boom. In recent years due to the depressed state of the market, they have generally not been put up for sale.

Fanciful claims are also made for apartments described as 'penthouses' simply because they are on the top floor.

But with vendors now starting to dip their toes in the market again for top level apartments, an important value marker is about to be laid down in the niche market next month with Lisney planning to auction a high end penthouse at Dalkey with an AMV of €1m.

One of the factors recently boosting demand for these top of the range, lifestyle homes has been the return of empty nesters to this sector of the market.

Up to recently, demand for these homes was dominated by bachelors, bachelorettes, DINKies (Double income no kids) or Irish professionals who worked abroad and required a secure pad to be available when they visited Dublin.

Another market has been foreign professionals with multi nationals who are used to 'proper' penthouses, in particular those who come from big American cities.

Agent Owen Reilly adds: "Now empty nesters are trading down to them again and these are not just buying in the sought after southside areas, they are also venturing into the north docklands area."

Reilly claims to have sold two of what he calls 'real penthouses' for over €1m in the last six months. However, he points out that there are very few 'real penthouses' in Dublin.

"Ideally to qualify as a real penthouse, it should occupy all of the top floor, have about 2,000 sq ft of floor area, have a roof garden or a 1,500 sq ft room with no roof, an elevator with a door opening directly and securely into the penthouse's hallway, as well as concierge service, two parking spaces, be very secure and very peaceful," he adds.

He reckons that penthouses which tick all the boxes can now secure premiums of 20pc compared to prices per square metre for other apartments in the same development.

"That's a change from the days not too long ago when very spacious apartments saw their floor areas priced at a discount compared to smaller flats which were in most demand.

"Other top floor units that tick say seven out of 10 of the boxes could also command perhaps a 10pc premium, especially if they have waterfront views," he admits.

However, many owners are reluctant to sell despite the recent improvement in prices. Some may still be in negative equity after prices fell 60pc in the property crash. "In the last two years prices have improved at least 25pc," Reilly claims.

James Galvin, who has been selling and renting penthouses in a number of places, including The Four Seasons Hotel complex in Ballsbridge, believes the turnaround may be even more dramatic. He says that penthouses fell by more than 70pc to the bottom. A receiver sold one of the Four Seasons penthouses at the bottom for around €760,000.

"Since then they have risen by about 35pc and most of that price recovery has been in the last 12 months," he reckons.

Recently he agreed deals to sell two in the Four Seasons for around the €1m mark and believes that larger ones than those two which he sold can achieve even higher prices.

He also reports renting penthouses for about €5,500 per month in the Four Seasons, to as much as €6,000 per month for one at Hanover Dock, Grand Canal Harbour which is a three bedroom penthouse with a terrace.

The Property Price Register shows three apartments at Shrewsbury Square, Sandymount Avenue, Ballsbridge selling for between €1,057,268 in 2011 and €1,211,454 in 2013.

The prices suggest that these were the top properties.

But the real test of the penthouse market will be seen on June 6 when Lisney will auction Penthouse S, Coliemore Apartments in Dalkey with a €1million AMV.

It ticks a number of key boxes to qualify as a 'real penthouse'. It has 2,000 sq ft of floor space extending over two floors. A very large gravelled roof garden wraps around the apartment and enjoys spectacular views over Dalkey Island and the Irish Sea out to Kish Lighthouse. Its two underground parking spaces are secured behind electric gates.

Its entrance lobby opens into a generous reception hall with a large dining room to the side, a kitchen/breakfast room to the front and the master suite with dressing room and en-suite bathroom to the right. Off an inner hall there is a skylight, a family bathroom and two further bedrooms one of which is en-suite.

But guests will be bowled over by the upstairs 54 sq m drawing room as its dual aspect, ceiling to floor windows, look out over Coliemore Harbour, Dalkey Island and the Muglins. It also comes with electric underfloor heating.

In Drumcondra an even higher guide price of €1.1m is being quoted for Penthouse apartment 420, Gracepark Manor is even more spacious with a floor area of 3,550 sq ft (328 sq m) and it also has the added advantage of as many as four bedrooms.

Darren Chambers of Lisney who is selling the property says it has secure access straight from the lift in the basement car park.

The owner also enjoys a private garage in the car park, thus ensuring that no one else can 'accidentally' park in one's space and, as it has space for two cars, this garage can also be used for storage of sports equipment instead of having to haul it up to the penthouse.

Its six balconies and terraces have views to the south, east, north and west with panoramic views of Dublin's coastline and mountains, the city centre, Howth Head, Phoenix Park and beyond.

In Dublin 4, Gunne estate agents is guiding €975,000 for another penthouse – 23 Ballsbridge Gardens, Ballsbridge. Its overall floor area extends to 1,830 sq ft (170 sq m) and its accommodation includes two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Its outdoor space includes two balconies, one of them off the sitting/dining room and one off the kitchen/breakfast room – and it enjoys attractive views from its balconies.

In addition, an attic room offers space for a study or extra storage or both. As well as a designated parking space, Ballsbridge Gardens offers generous visitor parking.

In Dublin's north docklands, Owen Reilly is guiding €550,000 for a penthouse, 14 Clarion Quay, Block 4, IFSC, Dublin 1. This 1,507 sq ft (140 sq m) lad's pad accommodates two bedrooms and features a double height ceiling in the living room.

Extending over the seventh and eight floors, an open plan area on the upper level is suitable for a variety of uses.

Its private roof garden enjoys all day sun and is equipped with its own hot tub for those balmy summer evenings which Dublin appears to be getting more of.

This garden is in two sections, one of which extends over 55.2 sq m and the other over 22 sq m.

There's a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system, the master bedroom is en-suite and comes with a walk-in wardrobe.

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