Mayo: Strong jobs market makes for brisk Mayo sales
House prices are up across Mayo, driven by an increase in employment in major towns, from Castlebar to Westport and Ballina.
The price of a four-bed semi in a town climbed 7pc to €177,000 and is predicted to rise a further 6pc this year to €188,000, according to the average of estimates provided by two agents, one operating in the south of the county and one in the north. Three-bed semis rose in price by 4pc to €152,000 last year.
In Castlebar, where three- and four-bed semis are generating the greatest number of sales, first-time buyers were competing with investors attracted by high rental yields, says agent Patrick Durcan of Property Partners Durcan. Sentiment in the market has been shored up by improved economic confidence in the town.
"Most of the vacant units on the main streets of Castlebar are now occupied and there is a better feeling out there, and more people are getting mortgages," says Durcan. "People are seeing house prices rising and they are too afraid to miss the boat while there is still value."
Ballina-based agent Karl Fox of Fox & Gallagher believes high employment in the town from big-name companies like Ballina Beverages and Hollister has underpinned demand for homes in the town, though price increases in north Mayo are lower than in the south of the county. He estimates a four-bed semi in a town in his region cost €168,000 in 2017, compared to Castlebar- based Durcan's €185,000 estimate for south Mayo.
"Ballina Beverages [which makes the concentrates for Coca- Cola], Allergan in Westport and Hollister in Ballina are the anchor stones of Mayo," Fox says. "They have solid income and that's what the banks are looking for. We are seeing more people moving from Dublin with their kids to work in Hollister because they will have a smaller mortgage and cheaper childcare.
"There are also buyers who fly from Knock to Stansted every week and return at weekends to north Mayo, because the same house in London would cost them €1m."
While Foxford and Crossmolina also attract buyers because of good schools, smaller rural villages with declining populations are falling out of favour with purchasers. Fox is selling A-rated homes in a scheme in Crossmolina for €165,000 apiece.
Property in Westport, meanwhile, commands a premium of up to 35pc higher than other Co Mayo towns because of employment available in tourism and at Allergan Pharmaceuticals, which makes Botox, in the town.