Monday 20 May 2019

Free the Millers Glen Four - from terrible prejudice

From l to r are, Megan O'Shaughnessy, 23, Thomas Beveridge, 22, Lisa Stacey, 27, and Shantelle Farrell, 20, queueing to buy a house at Millers Glen estate in Swords, the houses go on sale Saturday at 2pm. Photo: Damien Eagers 3/9/2014
From l to r are, Megan O'Shaughnessy, 23, Thomas Beveridge, 22, Lisa Stacey, 27, and Shantelle Farrell, 20, queueing to buy a house at Millers Glen estate in Swords, the houses go on sale Saturday at 2pm. Photo: Damien Eagers 3/9/2014
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

HOW many swallows make a summer? Or how many homebuyers make an Autumn property queue?

Four on Wednesday - and growing in numbers yesterday - if the fuss about the buyers sitting out overnight in deckchairs at Millers Glen in Swords is anything to go by.

It started with a music request phoned into the Ian Dempsey morning radio show - to play a tune for one of the people queuing overnight. Within hours social media lit up and a press scrum had descended on the scheme - taking pictures, quizzing and even feeding the Millers Glen Four fixed to their foldables and unable to move - all as if the dodo had been rediscovered alive in North Dublin.

The rumour spread that they'd probably end up using tents. The agent claims he didn't report anything like that - although he might have said something about things getting "intense" on the coverage.

The four, who had gathered ahead of tomorrow's 2pm launch turned out days early to establish dibs on the particular home types that they wanted. Megan O'Shaughnessy, the 23 year old at the head of the queue had her eye on a particular three-bed.

So what's the kerfuffle about?

There are 60 houses for sale at the scheme, so none were in danger of losing out and it's quite likely that homes will be available at Millers Glen for some time.

Meantime no one bats an eyelid when thirty bodies camp out on an icy St Stephen's night for the right to claim a HD television at €300 off recommended retail, or when people trek from Longford to camp out in the capital for tickets for U2 or Garth Brooks. We don't get fussed when college students camp overnight in lines for first dibs on a dingy flat.

The Millers Glen Four had become the story of the day because half of us passionately wish the property boom was back (those in negative equity) while other wish it would stay away (the first-time buyers).

The motives of the Millers Glen Four are clear and plausible - queuing for first dibs on limited house types and homes they'll end up living in all their lives.

Importantly, Millers Glen and Belmont in Stepaside (which also had a small queue some time ago) also share one thing in common - they are among the very few "brand new" schemes being built in the capital today. Most "new" homes being marketed were actually started in 2006 or 2007 and shelved, rented out or left in shell form for seven years.

The "brand new" homes in contrast, offer a really good deal because they have been built to higher standards thanks to the recent introduction of more comprehensive building regulations.

They are more solidly put together and vitally they must have 'A' energy saving ratings - which means the fuel bills and power bills will be minimal. Finally they are also substantially larger than homes started in the boom. Around 1,300 sq ft for three-bed homes compared with around 1,050 sq ft for three beds started in the boom. All good reasons to get a foldable, sit it out, and why the Millers Glen Four are a smart bunch of cookies.

A big misnomer is that queues indicate a "boom" - they don't always. They do indicate particularly good value or a particularly distinctive and strong selling point. Homes might be the only new ones in the area, or of a certain unique type and are thus destined to be contested just like the cheap TV in the Winter sales - and in almost any market.

In fact queue phenomenon was at its most intense during the flatline market of the early nineties when dozens queued overnight for homes at Sandyford Hall in South Co Dublin. At the time property prices had been falling in real terms for years on end.

Also in the early 1990s huge queues developed at Foster Brook in the St Helen's Scheme in Stillorgan - at the time property prices had been falling in real terms for years.

By the mid-1990s it became acceptable to the degree that even one particularly well known vocal campaigner against new city apartment developments was spotted queuing outside a south city centre block clutching his gingham blanket and thermos.

The queues developed their own social systems and rules were devised so no one moved up a place when a bathroom or provisions trip was required.

An agent who sold new homes in the 1990s adds: "The funny thing is that communities sort of started off in these queues because that's how people got to know all their future neighbours, and know them really well after sitting in close proximity with them for hours, or even days. They seem to love the novelty of camping out and the camaraderie it brings."

But the biggest secret of all is that despite a widespread belief that estate agents stage manage scheme queues, they actually detest them. On the day the Millers Glen story broke, the agent in charge of Millers Glen kept stressing over and over that there are sixty houses for sale and just four in the queue.

He was doing this for a good reason: Too much hype about queues leads the buying public to believe that the scheme is selling out fast. This is not good for sales.

The last boom era new home scheme to have a queue "out the door" had them lining up in droves in September 2006 for big pads near Terenure. Seven years on and the homes are still selling.

Indo Property

Editors Choice

Also in Life