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Value of top 10 sales falls by quarter

THE property indices may tell one story but the auction results for Dublin's premier streets tell another entirely with property prices coming back by over a quarter. Overall, the value of the top 10 residential properties sold in Ireland has fallen by 26 per cent over the past year and is down a massive 45 per cent from 2005.

This year the total value of the top 10 homes came to €104.15m with the top-selling house at 41 Ailesbury Road making €14m and number 10 on the list on Orwell Road in Dublin 6 coming in at €7m.

Notably, there were few top payouts for residential development land this year compared with the past two. In contrast, in 2006 the top-selling home was Gortanore on Brighton Road, Foxrock. The house on 2.8 acres sold for €31m with the land going to property developer David Arnold to develop a new village centre while number 10 on the list on Raglan Road sold for €9.3m. The figures were further boosted in 2005 with Walford on Shrewsbury Road selling for some €58m. The new owners plan to turn it into three homes.

Over each of the past three years, the old Monopoly reliables of Shrewsbury and Ailesbury Roads have dominated the top-selling homes. In 2005, some three homes were sold on Shrewsbury and one on Ailesbury. However, the latter picked up in 2006 when some seven homes were sold on the road with another five changing hands this year with Albert Reynolds cashing in at number two on the list. However, the sale of the most expensive, number 61, had been agreed in 2006 although it was not completed until this year. Meanwhile Derek Quinlan paid some €8.5m for number 43 and in more recent times, number 33 was sold for €7.76m.

In 2006, around the corner, 10 Raglan Road sold for €9.3m, while further into town, 13 Merrion Square sold under the hammer for €8.1m. This year the Rodens' old home on Wellington Road proved the exception, selling for €10.5m, a full €3m above the estimated price.

On top of lack of top development site sales, there are many more trophy properties still on estate agents' books this year. Despite the popularity of Ailesbury Road, number 41 is languishing after the former Glen Dimplex headquarters failed to sell at auction. One problem may be its small garden by local standards.

However, it is around Dalkey that some of the super trophy homes are mounting up as the celebrity residents move elsewhere. Jim Sheridan has still failed to land a buyer for his modernist home, Martha's Vineyard, which is on for €8m. Despite reports that she sold her Gothic pile, Mount Henry on Vico Road, Lisa Stansfield's home is still up for sale but with a massive €600,000 discount.

Other local piles, which remain on the market, include Wavecrest, which you can either rent or buy. But the most pricey property, six-bedroom Monte Alverno on Sorrento Road, which shares a driveway with Van Morrison, is still asking €25m despite being on the market for eight months.

Despite the recent stamp duty cuts, the tax bill on this home would still be a whopping €2.2 m.

Irish mortgage lenders will no doubt have been listening carefully to the UK financial regulators' warning to its firms that they should batten down the hatches and brace for "very difficult" market conditions next year as at least 1.4m homeowners face a sharp jump in loan payments.

The FSA said there was "a very real prospect that conditions will worsen further into next year, in terms of both liquidity and credit risks". Jackie Bennett, head of policy at the Council of Mortgage Lenders told a City meeting in recent days that some lenders "will face real difficulty in riding this storm out".

One of their main concerns is the huge numbers of borrowers who will come off very low introductory offers next year and will be faced with far higher repayments. The same is, of course, true for the thousands of young Irish homeowners who have bought in the past few years. Just last week European Central Bank president Jean Claude Trichet ratcheted up the rate hike rhetoric, worrying that pay hikes across Europe could force the European Council into acting next year.

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