Country homes market lifted by foreign buyers
The country house market has remained extremely strong over the last 12 months with high demand for second homes, castles and good quality estates.
In 2015, 42pc of our country home buyers were from outside of Ireland. We saw two real categories of buyers - the first being the returning Irish, people who have done very well abroad and are returning home with sterling or dollars to take advantage of an attractive exchange rate. The second was the international buyer looking for a safe haven for a second home where they can switch off from their busy lives. According to our own research, 80pc of these transactions are cash purchases.
In the first four months of the year, I have noticed more US buyers, mainly looking for a holiday home or something a little different, or to say they own a piece of Irish soil. We are also noticing many European buyers looking at Ireland as a possible place to bring up their children. We have a long-established and successful education system for a fraction of the cost of our UK or European counterparts.
The great legacy of the last decade for this sector is that fine and great homes of all shapes and sizes and their surrounding lands have been restored and transformed into the magnificent properties they once were, now presenting good value for money.
Many have come to the market for a variety of reasons, not least as a consequence of the global economic downturn.
Like any sector in property, there will be buyers for value, both within Ireland and from overseas, and certainly there is value available at the moment. Land as a traditional producing commodity is now more affordable and this return to value is good news for Ireland. As always, not just here, but in the world at large, money seeks value, the bonus is finding that value in Ireland.
Land is still very much in demand. The more land with a residence, the more attractive it is to both domestic and international buyers. There are very few estates in Ireland over 500 acres and when do they do come to the market, they are actively pursued, such as The Kilcooley Estate in Thurles on c1,263 acres.
Additional factors making Ireland an attractive prospect for international buyers include our favourable stamp duty rates compared to those in the UK, lower property taxes, upgraded roads and motorways and ease of access to international airports at Dublin, Shannon, Cork, Waterford, Knock and Farranfore.
All in all, Ireland still remains an excellent safe haven to live. With easy access to the UK and Europe, excellent road and rail infrastructure, a fantastic education system and of course the friendliness of the Irish people.
Roseanne De Vere Hunt is head of Country Homes, Farms and Estates at Sherry FitzGerald (Irish affiliate of Christies International Real Estate)