Wednesday 11 December 2019

Cork County West: UK buyers abandon West Cork

17 Emmet Square, Clonakilty, sold last July for €515,000
17 Emmet Square, Clonakilty, sold last July for €515,000

West Cork is one of the few markets in Ireland where house prices remain unchanged and are likely not to grow at all in 2018. The region, which is traditionally so popular with British retirees, has seen an exodus of UK buyers due to Brexit and sterling's weakness against the euro.

Four-bed detached coastal properties have been most popular these last twelve months compared to a four-bed bungalow outside a town a year earlier, says Sean Carmody from Charles McCarthy Estate Agents. The former, which once were sought after by British buyers, remain unchanged in price at €505,000.

While bankers from the City of London accounted for some purchases in West Cork last year - usually a base they can travel to via Cork airport at weekends - British middle-class retirees were largely absent from the market, says Carmody.

"I think the only places where prices rose outside Kinsale was three-bed semis in Baltimore and Skibbereen, because everything else was affected by Brexit," Carmody continues. "Inter- national buyers are not yet compensating for the dearth of British buyers, though there is interest from US buyers with Irish links. British buyers here tend not to have Irish links."

Carmody is heartened by the deal in December that would see Northern Ireland remaining within the EU's customs union and avoiding a hard border. "Next year we would hope there is a bit more certainty around Brexit and that we will see more British buyers back here. It would be good to get more clarity."

While the average price of a three-bed semi in west Cork probably rose just 1pc to €185,000, some towns saw greater price increases, such as Baltimore, "which is very popular with Dublin people who like to say they have a property there and go sailing", and Skibbereen, where demand for properties was buoyed by digital entrepreneurs taking advantage of the high-speed broadband at Ludgate Hub, which opened in July 2016. "Skibbereen has traditionally had a lack of year-round employment, but you couldn't buy the amount of media coverage Ludgate (the tech hub) has got and that's been a positive for the market," Carmody says.

The picturesque town of Clon- akilty has become popular with commuters priced out of Cork city, but risen prices and a shortage of housing make the town less affordable for young couples.

Kinsale, a haven for celebrities and Dublin professional classes, is a property market unto itself and likely saw a 10pc average increase in house prices, Carmody estimates. It is one of the few parts of West Cork that saw an increase in supply last year, thanks to developments such as Convent Garden and Kinsale Manor.

Irish Independent

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