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Dublin on the rise but rest of country lags behind

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Millfield Shopping Centre

Millfield Shopping Centre

Millfield Shopping Centre

THE surge in property prices in the past year took most people by surprise. While some recovery was expected, the size of the jump in prices in Dublin caught out many industry experts.

Outside Dublin though, it is a very different story. While there has been some improvement in Cork, Limerick and Galway, broadly speaking the market has remained stagnant in the provinces.

Marie Hunt, of the property broker CBRE, says it is "important to distinguish between Dublin and the rest of the country" when it comes to the perception that the market has recovered.

Hannah Dwyer, of JLL, notes that "the recovery is strongest in Dublin, although there is now some evidence of increases in other major regional cities".

Even so, the gap between Dublin and the other counties remains wide. Home prices in Dublin are up about 25pc in the last year. Outside the capital, prices are up about 7pc overall but are still flat in some parts, particularly in rural areas.

The same goes for the commercial market. This time two years ago a company could have rented space in a top quality office block in Dublin for about €25 per square foot.

Now that company would have to pay between €45 and €50 per square foot. Outside Dublin, rents are not close to that level, and languish in the €25 to €35 range.

Like any recovery, it begins in the main financial centre, and then moves out to the other cities and finally the rest of the country. That is what is happening in Ireland today.

International investors who bought heavily in Dublin in the past few years have begun to look at deals outside the city.

Ms Dwyer notes that big US investors have done this as prices in Dublin go higher and higher.

"The Acorn Portfolio included three regional shopping centres and was met with strong interest, selling for 30pc above its asking price."

Varde, a US private equity company, paid €170m for the portfolio which was made up of Blackpool Shopping Centre and Retail Park in Cork, Millfield Shopping Centre in Balbriggan in Co Dublin, and the Showgrounds Shopping Centre in Tipperary.

That deal, Ms Dwyer believes, "has set the benchmark for other subsequent deals across the country".

Savills' John McCartney, meanwhile, admits the market "remains tough in many areas outside the major cities".

Irish Independent