Friday 23 March 2018

Longford: Shortage of stock forcing up prices in Longford

Ballymakeegan, Longford, sold last August for €262,000
Ballymakeegan, Longford, sold last August for €262,000

Longford property prices surged last year and are set to do so again amid a dearth of fresh supply as the market recovers from a very low price base, and a period not so long ago when ghost estates littered the county.

Prices are up 17pc on this time last year and set to climb by 14pc in 2018 because so little has been built since the crash. Semis prices have really rocketed - by up to 60pc - by €30k to €46k as the county still remains one of the very cheapest places to buy a family home.

In the market town of Longford, where habitable three-bed semi-detached homes were selling for as little as €50,000, it is not yet financially viable for developers to build properties, according to agent Fintan McGill of Sherry FitzGerald McGill in Longford town.

"The build cost of a house is €125 per square foot and homes are selling for €110 a square foot, so we haven't reached equilibrium," he says. "Because nobody has built, this lack of stock means prices will go up."

The most popular house type in the county last year was a four-bed bungalow outside town, compared to a three-bed semi-detached style in town a year earlier.

"A good four-bed semi might sell for €120,000 but for about €40,000 extra, buyers can pick up a four-bed bungalow," McGill says. "These bungalows are selling at below cost - an 1,800-sq ft bungalow selling now for around €185,000 would have cost €245,000 to build back in 2010."

Increasingly, the buyers of three-bed semis in Longford town are foreign nationals - usually Eastern Europeans who work in local food producers such as pet-food maker C&D Foods, own their own business, or work as taxi drivers in Dublin - who have saved up to 60pc of a deposit.

Native purchasers, meanwhile, are trading up from three-bed semis to one-off bungalows built during the last boom, McGill says.

Mr McGill says inefficient road and rail links between Dublin and Longford has made the county unattractive as a commuting destination, while a lack of local employment opportunities has curbed the pool of house-buyers.

"Some 64pc of income in Longford town comes from social welfare," McGill says.

There is promise in sight in Ballymahon, where building has begun on a €233m Centre Parcs holiday resort which will have up to 500 lodges, and more than 100 activities. It is expected to employ up to 1,000 people, with the number of construction workers on site peaking at around 750 in 2018.

New resort employees looking for a home to buy or rent will boost the Ballymahon market, says McGill - a developer has applied for planning to build 30 three-bed semis in the town.

Irish Independent

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