Laois: Dublin commuters push up Laois prices
Laois has returned to its pre-boom status as a commuter county for budget home-buyers willing to accept extra travel time in exchange for cheaper houses than in neighbouring Co Kildare or the greater Dublin area.
"Prices in Kildare are increasing so much that people can't afford it anymore, so they are looking at Portlaoise and Portarlington, according to local agent Paul Kelly of DNG Kelly, which recorded a 22pc increase in property sales last year. "But price is just one factor: the property has to be married with good services, a train station and a motorway."
This additional demand has driven up the price of a four-bed semi by 25pc to an average €178,000 last year, with prices set to climb 7pc to €190,000 by the end of 2018. Even with those increases, properties in Laois represent a big discount compared with Co Kildare towns, Kelly says.
The expectations of more such commuter purchases are reflected in new-home pricing. In Portlaoise, a 50-minute train journey from Dublin's Heuston Station and an hour on the M7, three-bed semis being launched this month at the Bellingham estate are selling for €200,000 compared to between €350,000 and €380,000 for a similar home in Naas, Kelly says.
Among the first-time buyers who make up almost 40pc of the Laois property market are foreign-born nationals, especially Polish buyers. "They don't have any ties anywhere in Ireland so they don't struggle to leave Dublin," Kelly says. "They look at Portlaoise, its motorway and train and figure they might as well buy there." Indeed, newly married Polish couples, combined with investors and downsizers, last year helped drive up the price of one-bed and two-bed apartments by 30pc, to €105,000 and €120,000, respectively.
The help-to-buy scheme has enabled first-time buyers to purchase three- and four-bed semis, while banks were more willing to let those in negative equity trade up to country homes worth €300,000-400,000, Kelly says.