Donegal: Surf's up but holiday home market hit hard
Brexit has hit the holiday home market hard in Donegal.
Traditionally most buyers Prices tend to be higher in the northern half of the county towards Donegal Town, where a three-bed semi is valued at €150,000. This same house type would only be €100,000 as you go further south towards Bundoran.
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Agent Cormac Meehan of Sean Meehan & Co in Bundoran said the exceptional weather last summer was good for business. This helped the flagging holiday home market, which saw buyers come to the surfing town from Australia and the US.
"Most people who would have bought holiday homes in Donegal would have come from the north," says Meehan.
"Last year though, thanks to the strength of the surfing business here, we've had a few people from Australia and the States buying up some small places so they have a base here and can work in the surf schools during the summer months."
The other active buyers in the market in Donegal last year were eastern Europeans. "They've been living here for 10 years or more and are now keen to put down roots because they have school-going kids, much in the same way as young Irish people did in the States in the 60s," says Meehan. "It's beautiful to see. They're a joy to deal with. They buy a fixer-upper and their eight or 10 friends gather around and help them with the carpentry and electrics. Locals are looking thinking, 'why didn't I do that?'."
Up in Letterkenny, Joe Reynolds of Property Partners Paul Reynolds says prices have not changed much in the past year. He observes that UK and northern buyers aren't the only ones worried by Brexit, it's affecting everyone in the county.
"Brexit is hitting hard," says Reynolds.
"The UK buyer has fallen off but there's a nervousness amongst locals too. A no-deal Brexit will have a detrimental affect on our industries up here so there is a real lack of confidence in the market at the moment."
There is little building going on in the county and Reynolds points out that there is very little stock for sale at the moment in the second-hand market too.
Big sales at the high end of the market are rare for either agent these days. One of the more expensive houses to sell in the county last year was Hillmount Manse in Letterkenny which sold for €670,000.
Both agents agree that the only way is up now for Donegal and are hopeful that prices will rise by 7pc in the coming year.
Once the uncertainty around Brexit clears, the buyers that have been sitting on the fence should be ready to jump off and invest in the unspoilt county.