| 1.4°C Dublin

Fingleton's folly provides rich pickings for buyers

THE first 20 of Michael Fingleton's dream apartments in the upmarket Dublin suburb of Booterstown sold out within hours of being launched yesterday, netting €6m for the state-controlled Irish Nationwide building society.

Now, the agent hopes to sell a further 20 of the 62 apartments at the Booterstown Wood development before Monday evening, which would bring sales over the four days to €12m.

With prices pitched at less than 50pc below the market'speak rates, hundreds of prospective buyers went to view the four show apartments from the time they opened at noon yesterday until they closed at 6pm.

More prospective buyers are expected each day until Sunday at the seven-storey block on the corner of Booterstown Avenue and Stillorgan Road.

Agents Hooke and MacDonald had said they would release only 20 apartments this weekend, but because of the strong demand they decided to release a further 20.

"We will hold the prices at the current levels," the firm's chairman Ken MacDonald said.

This contrasts with the boom period, when agents frequently increased prices the day after the first tranche had been sold.

Sales yesterday included five two-bedroom duplex penthouses, priced from €355,000, which have sea views over Dublin Bay and to the up-market suburb of Mount Merrion.

Other sales included five one-bedroom flats priced from €215,000 as well as 10 luxury two bedroom apartments priced from €289,00.

Prices now for the two-bedroom apartments are less than half the €635,000 that was paid for two-bedroom apartments just across the road in the Thornwood development at the peak of the market in 2007.

Former Irish Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton had been planning this Booterstown development for almost 30 years but left it too late to start construction. It was not completed until after the market had peaked in 2007.

If he had managed to sell all 62 units at the 2007 prices, he could have grossed €40m.

That would have more than recouped the €22.4m spent on the development work. However, it now looks like Irish Nationwide and its owner, the Irish taxpayer, may have to settle for less than €19m.

On the other hand, if demand should remain strong, the building society might well consider nudging up prices for the 22 units and such stronger prices would push the sales closer to break-even.

Because Mr Fingleton managed Irish Nationwide as his business fiefdom, some Booterstown residents believed that he owned the development personally. In fact, it is being sold by Irish Nationwide.

Referring to yesterday's successful sales, agent Ken MacDonald said: "There were a lot of first-time buyers, as well as a few investors and one or two older people trading down."

Stressing that the launch was not a firesale, he added: "This was a good start. These sales are good for the market and show that there is still demand for apartments."

Dream apartments at half price: See Property

Irish Independent