Saturday 25 March 2017

Mover and shakers of 2016

As the 2016 property season draws to a close, what were the stand-out sales? Fran Power reports on the million-plus market

Lyons Demesne, Co Kildare
Lyons Demesne, Co Kildare

It's been an unusual year for the residential property market, but then it has been an unusual year full stop. Not even the pollsters predicted the outcome of Brexit or the US presidential elections, and the level of uncertainty that has followed them. And if there's one thing we can be sure of it's that the property market hates uncertainty.

Add to this the introduction of stricter Central Bank regulations at the end of 2015 and the shortage of stock coming to market and the brakes were on.

51 Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4
51 Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4

Yet still prices climbed upwards. The shortage of supply accelerated house price rises by 7.3pc nationally to September, according to the latest CSO figures. This compares with an increase in house prices of 6.8pc to August, and an increase of 4.2pc in the 12 months to September 2015, and comes despite the Central Bank's mortgage restrictions. It remains to be seen what impact both the Budget's Help-to-Buy scheme and this week's easing of the Central Bank's deposit limits for first-time buyers will have.

What did all this mean for the upper end of the market? Peter Kenny of Knight Frank, who handles much of their high-end Dublin sales, describes the market as "still dysfunctional".

Renville House, Oranmore, Co Galway
Renville House, Oranmore, Co Galway

"It's still existing mostly in cash at the upper end of the market. There is very little bank involvement." Many of the potential buyers he sees are what he calls "Irish money".

"There's very little foreign investment in the market. If any of it is coming from abroad, it has Irish links - it's Irish people coming back to buy the property they've always wanted and they feel the time is now right."

45 Sandford Terrace, Dublin 6
45 Sandford Terrace, Dublin 6

Like many agents we talked to, Kenny believes that Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have introduced caution into the market. "People are delaying decisions or slowing down on their decision to buy."

Marcus Magnier of Colliers comments that while prices nationally are rising month on month, certain upmarket parts of Dublin are selling properties for lower prices now than this time last year. Sean Dunne's Shrewsbury Road mansion, Ouragh, for example, has seen a price drop from its original asking price of €7m down to €5.5m, while High Cross on Temple Road has reduced its asking price from €7.5m to €6.95m.

Caherdaniel, Temple Road, Dublin 6
Caherdaniel, Temple Road, Dublin 6

According to CSO figures to September, prices in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown - traditionally home to many a big sale - showed increases of just 3.5pc over last year, but are rising fast with a 3.6pc rise over the last three months. Those in south county Dublin rose by 3.5pc over the last three months, and showed a 4.3pc increase over the year to date. Highest increases in Dublin were seen in Dublin city at 6.5pc and Fingal at 5.1pc.

Robert Ganly of Ganly Walters, who brought Westport House, one of this year's biggest properties to market, says there was a fall-off in enquiries for high-end properties from overseas in the first six months of the year, particularly from the UK and those earning in sterling. "But there was a significant increase after mid-August and into September with high-end viewers looking at a number of properties - both sterling buyers and US dollars." One of their properties in particular, Lake Park in Co Wicklow, which is on the market at €3.5m, had exceptional interest with a number of buyers coming by private jet to viewings.

Beulah, Harbour Road, Dalkey
Beulah, Harbour Road, Dalkey

The country market, which has traditionally been fuelled by international buyers or cash-rich Irish people returning from abroad, has been badly hit by international events and currency exchange fluctuations. According to Marcus Magnier of Colliers: "The market has been difficult. At the upper end of the market, confidence was eroded. We had some excellent sales but it's been a difficult year. It requires patience and perseverance in pursuit of the right buyer, in particular in relation to country properties which took a terrible hit… It's a longer game."

The big sale

It's been seven years since Lyons Demesne, home of the late Tony Ryan, first went to market with a price tag of €60m. Last month, the sale of the historic Co Kildare estate finally appeared on the Property Price Register (PPR) with a recorded sale of €12,073,334, a figure that may exclude any monies paid for the 575 acres of land that came with the property. The estate came within a whisker of being sold at the reduced price of €30m back in 2014 but was withdrawn from the market by the Ryan family. Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair, had had the elegant Georgian mansion painstakingly restored at a cost estimated to be near €80m and includes a helicopter pad, 22-acre lake and stables, cinema and pool, numerous lodges as well as the large parcel of land. The off-market sale has been reported to have been to a member of the Lyons family.

Harristown Demesne, Co Kildare
Harristown Demesne, Co Kildare

In an earlier deal this year, The Village at Lyons, which adjoins the estate, was sold by Declan Ryan to Irish businessman and hotelier Barry O'Callaghan. It comprised a parcel of land, cookery school, shops, apartments and wedding venue at a price of €6m through selling agents Colliers. It continues as a wedding venue and has been rebranded as Cliff at Lyons.

Country sales

The five-bed Georgian property of Renville House in Oranmore, Galway - one of the county's finest period houses which boasts 800m of sea frontage on Galway Bay and sits on 135 acres - was sold by Jordan Town and Country after some intense bidding at auction in July. It was snapped up by Pat McDonagh of Irish fast food chain Supermac's for €3.2m and it is understood that it will become a permanent residence after refurbishment. More recently, the sale of the lovely walled estate of Bective Demesne in Co Tipperary - which sits on c180acres and was guiding €4.2m with Sherry FitzGerald - has closed.

Another sizeable transaction took place in August with the sale of Eimear Mulhern's stud farm at Meadow Court in The Curragh for €1.6m. The Goffs chairperson and daughter of the late taoiseach Charles Haughey had bred from Meadow Court for 26 years but has downsized, according to The Irish Field, to the 110-acre Kilnagorman estate, the former yard of John Oxx, nearby. She placed the 723sqm property on the market in 2015 - it came with outdoor pool, tennis courts, staff apartments and a stud manager's house, as well as two stud yards and numerous loose boxes and outbuildings.

According to local agent REA Coonan, who is handling the sale of Ballymacoll Stud (expected to go for in the region of €12m to €13m) the price per acre for sought-after land such as this is conservatively priced at between €15,000 and €20,000. Such a valuation would increase the price achieved for the 200 acres of Meadow Court to somewhere between €4-5m. It is understood the purchasers are overseas buyers who intend to continue in the business.

The rise and rise of Dublin 6

In a survey carried out by the Irish Independent two years ago, estate agents dealing in the upper end of the market were polled on the top 10 most-exclusive Dublin streets in which to own a property. First and second were - no surprises here - Shrewsbury Road in Ballsbridge and its equally well-heeled neighbour Ailesbury Road, both of which still retain their allure. But the third street nominated came as a surprise. It was Temple Road in Dublin 6, a stretch of leafy Victorian and Edwardian redbricks that count the Brazilian and Nigerian embassies among their number. Certainly, few properties come to market here - just three over the five years from 2010 to the beginning of this year. So the amount of activity seen in 2016 seems like a gold rush and the figures achieved are as high as those in the leafiest streets of D4.

The biggest Dublin sale this year took place on Temple Road at Alston, No 19, and was recorded in the PPR as two separate transactions of €8.725m and €1.5m, presumably to account for the coach house that came with the property. It has been reported that former Paddy Power boss Patrick Kennedy, current deputy governor of the Bank of Ireland, purchased no 19 from barrister Vincent Foley and his wife Helen who had lived there since the 1980s. The new owners will be within hailing distance of fellow residents John Dorrance III of Campbell's Soup and Cuisine de France founder Ronan McNamee.

This year sees nearby Temple Gardens in Rathmines, long a sought-after address, notch up some of Dublin's biggest sales. In the first half of the year, St Dominic's at No 5, sold in an off-market deal for €6.5m. It was previously the family home of former attorney general and barrister, the late Rory Brady.

A couple of months later, in July, Subiaco, 1 Temple Gardens, which first came to the market at €4.75m in September 2015, also sold in an off-market deal at €5.85m. It had last been on the market in 2006 at the height of the Tiger's roar for €9.05m.

Currently, Sherry FitzGerald is selling High Cross, at No 40 Temple Road. Also available is the last of Manorglen's five new high-spec homes jointly launched by Sherry FitzGerald and DNG. Four are already at varying stages of negotiation, with Avanti already sold at €2.225m; Ellington, with an asking price of €2.5m, and New Haven gone sale agreed. The premium property, Caherdaniel, a five-bed on 470sqm with an asking price of €4.5m, is also sale agreed.

"It has all the bells and whistles," says Gemma Lanigan of DNG New Homes. "It mirrors a beautiful period home," with Victorian style detailing, parquet floors, panelling, and handmade wardrobes, but crucially, she points out, has the comfort and ease of running a new property including a BER of A2.

When the owners of these grand red-bricks do decide to sell, many opt to do so off-market. Sherry FitzGerald director Geralyn Byrne has spent a good number of years negotiating sales in this postcode.

"We've been in Temple Road for a long time, the market here has always been strong. It has made great strides," she says, adding, "It has always been under-valued."

She refuses to comment on individual transactions, but says of those who purchase in the area: "People tend to move in, raise their families, and stay for 30 years. The buyers we've been dealing with are families attracted by the sense of community, the sense of place - Rathmines is going through a major rejuvenation with Fallon & Byrne, and The Swan Leisure Centre. The wonderful schools are part of the attraction, mirroring what's happening in the UK where prices reflect distance to schools; the properties are within walking distance of junior and secondary schools as well as Trinity College and UCD."

Elsewhere in Dublin 6, the home - and perhaps more importantly, the garden - of author and well-known gardener Helen Dillon came to market with an asking price of €4.6m with Sherry FitzGerald. No 45 Sandford Terrace is one of a small number of detached Georgian houses with large gardens set back off Sandford Road and backing on to Gonzaga school and within walking distance of Sandford Park School and Ranelagh village. The garden of No 45 had long attracted fans from all over the world to explore its clever planting and terraced landscaping. But the purchasers also have other unique features to enjoy - the guest loo was modelled on one at Ballymaloe house and was completely lined in shells, while the period details are, for the most part, intact. It achieved a price of €4.5m within a record four weeks. The buyer is believed to be Irish. No 47 Sandford Road sold last year for €4.35m, showing that prices have risen slightly in this area.

Dublin 4 slow but steady

In the heartland of the embassy belt prices have been firm with a little above the asking price achieved for No 51 Ailesbury Road last month by Sherry FitzGerald. The five-bed property, which had been extended to 530sqm over the years by its vendors Louise and Rory Egan, went on the market last year at €5.7m but achieved a price of €5.9m. Elsewhere on the street, new owners and neighbours are making themselves at home with ambitious building plans.

No 70 Ailesbury Road sold at the beginning of the year to Conor Rhatigan, son of property developer Francis Rhatigan, for €2.25m. He has plans to extend to the rear and refresh the façade of the 1940s building, while next door at No 72, purchaser Edward Duffy plans to add a two-storey extension to bring the total area of the house to 385sqm. The property was originally on the market at €3.25m, but was bought for a relative bargain sum of €2.8m in November.

Neighbours on this strip include JP McManus at No 22, who bought the 1,486sqm property for €10m from developer Bernard McNamara back in 2011, businessman Dermot Desmond and financier Shane Reihill who bought last year. Meanwhile, on nearby Merrion Road, the former guesthouse Cedar Lodge at No 98 sold for €5.7m.

The Irish Riviera

In south county Dublin, the level of million-plus transactions has been healthy. Highest among them was Beulah on Harbour Road, Dalkey, in September at €6m.

The Victorian seaside villa on 1.7 acres with use of a private harbour came to market last year asking €6.5m and was sold by the widow of the late Finn O'Sullivan, founder of Irish Express Cargo, to buyers who are believed to be relocating to Ireland.

10 most expensive properties on the market now 

  • €25m Harristown Demense, Brannockstown, Co Kildare;  Jordan Town & Country Estates
  • €20m Castlehyde, Fermoy, Co Cork; Goffs Country
  • €10.5m Inniscorrig, Coliemore Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin; Sherry FitzGerald and BK Earley
  • €10m Westport House, Westport, Co Mayo; Ganly Walters
  • €9.7m Fintragh, 11 Shrewsbury Road, Dublin 4; Knight Frank
  • €9.7m Danes Hollow, Baily, Howth, Co Dublin; Ganly Walters
  • €8m Kilcooley Estate, Thurles, Co Tipperary; Sherry FitzGerald
  • €7.5m Liss Ard Estate, Skibbereen, Co Cork; Charles McCarthy and Sherry FitzGerald
  • €6.95m High Cross, 40 Temple Road, Dartry, Dublin 6; Sherry FitzGerald
  • €6.5m The Landenstown Estate - The Entire, Sallins, Co Kildare; Sherry FitzGerald
  • €6.5m Strawberry Hill House, Vico Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin; Sherry FitzGerald
  • €5.95m 27 Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4; Savills
  • €5.5m Ouragh, Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4; Colliers

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