Monday 16 July 2018

Real Deal: the business of property

Center Parcs’ plan for Ballymahon
Center Parcs’ plan for Ballymahon

Philip Farrell

Your loan approval is in place, your budget is written in stone and you have an idea where you would like to live. What next? I suggest creating a check list of the five top items on your wish list - that might include location, number of bedrooms, garden, or access to work.

Trawl through the main property websites (and papers) and prepare a list of five potential homes. No more than that. It's tempting to compile a long list but that becomes confusing and frustrating.

If you are new to the bidding process, ask a friend or professional who is not emotionally involved in the transaction to help you. This is especially relevant when a property is being sold at public auction. Most people find bidding at auction intimidating and having an advisor will insure you don't get caught up in the moment and overstretch yourself.

If I had a euro for every bidder who offered more than they intended to in the auction room, I would be a rich man.

Be sure to visit your potential new locale at different times of the day to identify any possible local issues - traffic, noise, anti-social activity. If there are no other offers on the table, offer a figure that, while it mightn't be acceptable, is still reasonable. It is important not to be seen as a 'tyre-kicker'.

Don't make an offer at the first inspection - you would be amazed how many people do. Take your time, reflect after the inspection and then decide on your strategy. Don't show your hand too early and remember the agent is acting for the vendor. If there are other bidders, try to glean as much detail as possible from the estate agent about the competition. It may change your approach to bidding.

And try to establish the nature of the vendor -are they a private individual, a bank or a receiver? It may determine how quickly the sale will close. If the property is being sold by private treaty and your offer is accepted, be sure to pay the booking deposit as soon as possible. If it is an auction, you are bound to pay it immediately.

On the move

Itchy feet? Thinking of moving house? UK statistics just released by Savills highlight the fact that the amount of times that people move home in a lifetime has dropped dramatically from 4.6 in 2008 to 2.75 in 2016, a decrease of 40pc. This figure includes the first house purchase.

Many property trends in the UK housing market are subsequently replicated here in Ireland and there's no doubt that we are already experiencing the above here. First-time buyer activity has been decreasing since property values started increasing at a much greater pace than wages.

In recent times, the first-time buyers' inability to secure a mortgage has reduced homeowners' mobility in the property market even further. From the early 2000s, as values increased with pace, people built up equity in the short term, therefore moving up the property ladder became an option quickly.

For many today, this is not an option. We're buying homes later in life with the average age of first-time buyers rising from 29 to 33 over the last 20 years in Ireland. For those who have homes, many are locked in with little or no equity. As a result, extending a property becomes a more viable option for many.

One wonders what implications these statistics will have on the property sector in the long term. It could mean, in theory, that there will be 40pc less property sales by owner-occupiers in the future. Food for thought.

A walk in the Parc for Longford?

Longford residents will have to wait a little bit longer to see if the proposed Center Parcs Holiday Village, which received planning permission in late February, will proceed following the standard four-week window for objections.

Three separate objections had been submitted by the time of the deadline last week and An Bord Pleanala has until July 25 to rule on the application.

There is broad support in the greater Longford area for this development and why wouldn't there be? If approved, the proposed completion date would be 2019, providing 750 initial construction jobs with a further 1,000 permanent jobs in an area that has suffered greatly from emigration and urban migration over the last decades. It is estimated that the project would contribute €32m a year to the economy and it would be the largest private tourist development in Ireland, accommodating up to 2,500 holidaymakers. Newcastle Wood in Ballymahon has been earmarked for the Holiday Village, a spot almost equidistant from Longford, Mullingar and Athlone. The complex would include 470 lodges, 30 apartments, spa, cafes, bars, restaurants and a sub-tropical swimming paradise feature. If this project proceeds, it might also entice other ventures to the area.

Do people in Dublin have 29pc more fun?

A recent survey on the cost of living in world cities makes for very interesting reading. Ireland's three largest cities of Dublin, Cork and Belfast are listed at 33rd, 77th and 94th place respectively in terms of cost of living. The report looks at the cost of food, clothes, transportation, entertainment, personal care and, of course, housing, and is compiled by Expatistan.

Delving a little deeper and looking at the three largest Irish cities and how they compare highlights the disparity that can occur on such a small island as Ireland. Obviously, Dublin is the most expensive in every sector followed mainly by Cork and Belfast.

Housing in Cork comes in cheapest, Belfast comes in at an additional 7pc of cost and ­Dublin, a whopping 31pc extra.

Other noticeable differences are in the areas of transportation, food and entertainment. Belfast is far cheaper for food with prices up to 22pc lower than the others. Dublin is also the most expensive for both transport (+39pc) and entertainment (+29pc). The overall average makes Dublin up to 29pc more expensive than the other Irish cities - a factor which needs to be taken note of before making the decision to move to the Big Smoke.

Sunday Independent

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