Wicklow North: New developments boost activity
After notable growth through 2013/2014 in north Wicklow, the Central Bank regulations introduced at the start of 2015 really hit home in the third and fourth quarter of last year as the previous year's unused mortgage approvals (which lasted six months or more) began to expire and the real impact of the new regime was felt.
This cooled some of the enthusiasm for rocketing prices in some of the well-heeled suburbs where prices were really strong. Gordon Lennox of Sherry FitzGerald says the Government achieved what it set out to do by taking the heat out of the market, but adds that the North Wicklow market's inherent basic strengths are still solid.
"We had the best November in seven years," says Lennox. "Some vendors who wanted to get the deal done before Christmas adjusted their prices in line with purchasers' mortgage ability as people were €20,000-€40,000 less well off with the new regulations than last year."
Sherry FitzGerald recently held an information evening for a new development of 180 houses in Seagreen in Greystones on an elevated site overlooking the sea. People were willing to buy off the plans at the open night because the development has what everyone is after - three-and four-bed family homes with no apartments on the site.
Another scheme called Wicklow Hills in Newtownmountkennedy had similiar interest, with 58 buyers putting down deposits in the first three weekends. Lennox is adamant that that's because the builders of both developments have researched the market properly and gave it what it wanted.
Lennox believes that it's the people who took on the advice and listened to the market that found their homes on offer again, having gone through a quiet patch in July, August and September.
Unlike other parts of the country, North Wicklow is looking at a busy year for new builds, with buyers very keen to get in on the market.
"People are rolling up to new homes launches with brand new loan approvals in their hands and they're not dogged by the legacy issues of 'Oh, I could have borrowed 40 grand more last year and now look at what the bank has done to me'. They're just coming along so pleased to get a house of their choice," says Lennox, "It's a different mindset and I think that is going to cascade down to the second-hand market for the first quarter of next year."
Another factor which is grounding the market in the North County is the number of ex-pats with local roots currently interested in returning with their families. "A lot of people who have children who are 10 or 11 who have been working abroad, are keen on getting their children into the Irish education scheme so they can eventually qualify for university here. They may not need the house for another four or five years but they are buying now so they know the kids will get into the school in the catchment area when the time comes," says Lennox.
Transport links like rail, the Dart, city-bound buses, the Luas at Cherrywood, or even the Aircoach, are all features in peoples' enquiries. "We found that the prices that held best are those close to public transport links and the N11/M50 motorway link."
Lennox believes that the strength in the market at the end of 2015 will carry through, giving a very strong start to 2016.