Agent View: Large country homes still representing good value
The Irish country house market is probably one of the great variables in the property market, principally due to the outstanding variety exhibited.
Colliers International has a selection of magnificent Georgian and Victorian period houses of grand stature - over 7,000 sq ft - which were fortunate to have been in vogue during the days of plenty. The works and renovations carried out on these houses have gone a long way to maintaining our heritage for future generations. The Celtic Tiger years meant that considerable fortunes were lavished on these properties, not much of which will be recouped in the current market.
For anyone in the market to purchase such classic homes, there is the benefit of considerable value to be had at this time.
The first quarter of 2017 saw an increase in enquiry levels for these properties, especially from the UK and continental markets. However, very large houses in poor condition remain difficult to move, often constrained by lack of parkland surrounding them.
In the more modest range of 3,000 to 7,000 sq ft, there tends to be former rectories, glebe houses or manor houses, which would have been surrounded by a small farm and have not benefited from the embellishments of the Celtic rush.
We have seen a trend amongst possible vendors to look at disposing of larger houses to downsize into a modern and more suitable house as they progress in years.
It's a sign of the times that the more senior generations wish to retain the land bank, seeing it as their security into the future. Due to financial constraints or family being spread across the world and unlikely to return, family members are neither interested in continuing with a farm nor in maintaining the big house. We see this market, to a certain extent, improving as the prices of period properties in the major urban conurbations are rising and the country house, with a smaller land area, is looking like excellent value.
The large, modern country house is still struggling to improve in value. It is regularly the case that the sale value of such property barely covers the finances expended in fitting out the property, never mind the cost of build.
We are confident that the Irish country house market will continue to supply excellent value for some time with improving consumer confidence and the influx of continental and British purchasers looking for a safe haven with good connections. We believe value will improve, however, at a modest pace, thus not recreating the frenzy of the Celtic Tiger years. We are quietly confident, following a period of poor supply, that the market will improve with the release of new properties for sale.
Callum Bain is senior surveyor of residential at Colliers International