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'There's money around but only if the price is low enough'

IT was standing room only, once again. Hundreds of potential purchasers jostled for space as they contemplated taking a gamble as properties went under the hammer for as low as €28,000.

"What is worth it these days?" mused an investor at Allsop Space's fourth distressed property sale at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin yesterday. "More property is selling this time; quite a bit, over the reserve."

A house in the Riverdale estate in Oranmore, on the banks of Galway Bay, was probably a good buy at €92,000, she pointed out.

In the end, dairy farmer Richard Burke (28), from Oranmore, signed on the dotted line.

"I thought there was good value in the property. It is in a good town, close to the city," said Mr Burke.

"I'll furnish it and rent it for a year or two; and if I find a nice bird, I'll probably move into it," he joked.

Properties in the estate were making between €240,000 and €280,000 during the peak, he said.

Mr Burke said the auction showed there was money around, but only if the price was low enough.

"There is a lot of fear out there; young couples don't want to be buying. There are fears that a property might not be worth €70,000 in two years' time," he said.

And he wasn't the only one digging into their savings to bag a bargain. Of the 112 properties listed, 108 were offered and four withdrawn prior to auction -- meaning it scored a 92pc success rate for sales.

One health service worker bought a four-bedroom house in Beechwood Park, Convoy, Co Donegal, for €53,000.

"As low as the rent is, that will nearly pay the mortgage on it," he said, adding the rent was more than €3,000 a year.

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Jim Doyle from Bagenalstown described as "good value" five acres of land he purchased outside the Co Carlow town for €75,000 to build himself a house on it.

However, outside, Patrick Grant (41), was among several protesters highlighting bank repossessions.

He said he was at risk of losing his Portlaoise home after his shop closed down.

"My savings are gone paying the mortgage and bills over the past year. The stress, depression and anxiety that goes along with it and everything with the banks is all one way," he said.

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