Maggie Molloy, a campaigner for cheaper homes, believes the State should scrap hefty taxes on derelict, rural houses to help bring them back into the market for cash-strapped buyers.
Passing by empty houses on the long drives from her home in Tipperary to see her family in Wexford inspired her to set up her Instagram page, Cheap Irish Houses, which now has 136,000 followers.
An offer of a TV show quickly followed and it is now in its second series.
“The majority of people under the age of 45 who saw my feed were saying, ‘I cannot believe houses exist for under €100,000 in Ireland… we have been told for years that there is nothing under €100,000,’” Molloy said.
The 2016 census found 183,000 vacant houses and apartment dwellings that were not holiday homes in 2016.
She believes the Government could help solve Ireland’s chronic housing shortage by ditching the 33pc capital gains tax on the sale of inherited homes.
“At the moment, the biggest crux for me is that tax. Capital gains for empty derelict houses is 33pc. We need to get the houses on the market,” she said.
"We’ve shown in the last year there is an appetite for living in rural areas. There’s an appetite for these houses.
“These houses are inherited through farming communities and a lot of these houses sit in limbo.
"There’s just zero incentive for people to sell them. You’re giving away 33pc of what you’re getting on a house; it’s a huge amount of money.
"If you could just take that tax off even just on houses that have been empty for years.”
For Molloy, who is an illustrator by trade, the pandemic has shown these kinds of houses are a reasonably priced dream for buyers otherwise locked out of the property market.
“Could you imagine if we used our whole country? Trying to shunt people up into Dublin is obviously not working,
“With people realising they could work from home there is this momentum of people wanting to move back to rural Ireland.”
She said the market hasn’t slowed down at all as “there are still loads of them left”.