Lakeside luxury which is fit for a lottery winner
There are ripples of sales activity for those properties situated close to Lough Derg, writes Donal Buckley.
Affluent Dubliners in search of waterfront homes, trade up to Killiney and Dalkey; their Cork city counterparts head to Kinsale in search of healthy lifestyle homes away from the hurley burley but also within easy reach of it.
But when it comes to Limerick's affluent waterfront retreat, the city's wealthy buyers have tended to head inland to the shores of Lough Derg on the River Shannon.
In the nineties John Paul Getty III bought the 100-acre lakefront estate, Gurthalougha House. It was sold last year through Ganly Walters for close to its €2.45m asking price.
While property prices around the lake have suffered value falls of 50pc since the crash, there are signs that sales activity has picked up and that prices are stabilising. It looks like Lough Derg has hit the bottom.
Certain types of properties and areas around the lake continue to command premiums over similar properties in the neighbouring north Tipperary and east Clare areas.
For instance, in the recent sale of houses at Ardna Deirge, Killaloe, Rathbrae Ltd completed 16 houses that had been in a former ghost estate and, within 10 days of bringing them to the market, its agent Harry Brann had sold 14 of them at prices ranging from €145,000 for a three-bedroom semi-detached up to €160,000 for a four-bed detached.
The strongest price premiums are paid for lakeside properties with direct access on to the lake. Next in line are those, which while inland, still have views of the lake thanks to their elevated sites.
Then, of course, some areas are stronger than others. For instance, professionals and business people working in Limerick prefer to trade up to houses with lake views in the Ballina/Portroe areas.
Houses with lake views in those areas can command a 20pc premium while similar houses, on sites of about one to three acres with direct lake access, can command a 30pc premium, according to William Talbot of Sherry FitzGerald Talbot.
Demand continues to come from expats who plan to buy in advance of retiring to the old sod and this demand has also helped to ameliorate the lower demand for holiday homes from Dublin residents who prefer homes on the north-east side of the lake around Dromineer and Coolbawn, as these are more accessible from the capital.
Unlike most property markets, where demand is determined by local economic fundamentals, the Lough Derg market is dependent on other economies performing well and particularly those in Shannon airport, Limerick, Dublin and Europe.
Local agent John Phelan of Harry Brann auctioneers says that since last July sales have picked up in the area. On the Clare side of the lake, a two-bedroomed bungalow sold recently for about €390,000.
Located at Ballyvalley, Killaloe, the house known as Carpe Diem has a floor area of less than 87 sq m but its site extends to 0.76 acres and, more importantly, it has 200ft of lake frontage in addition to private sailing and berth areas with a slipway. In the upmarket estate of Ard Coillte in Ballina, four-bedroom detached houses have been selling for about €295,000 over the past 12 months, whereas in Thurles town some similar sized houses are asking less than €200,000.
Last week a detached four-bedroom house, 3 Harbour View, Mountshannon, Co Clare, sold at an Allsop Space auction for €185,000 which is in line with its €175,000 to €200,000 guide price range. On the face of it, that's an increase of €60,000 on the €125,000 that the auctioneer achieved for each of two larger houses in the same estate last year.
However, last year's sales are not comparable. Not alone does No 3 have much more attractive views over the lake but it needs much less work done compared with the two that sold last year and also those were new houses, so VAT was added to their prices.
Mr Phelan says apartments in the area are still slow to sell, especially if they don't have lake views.
Michael Gilmartin of DNG compares the lakeside premiums to apartments in Nenagh, one of the nearest large towns. A Nenagh apartment with a floor area of 1,000 sq ft sold for €80,000. A similar sized apartment of 1,100 sq ft in the lakeside town of Killaloe sold for almost double that or €150,000.
During the boom, holiday homes which were within a few miles of the lake were also in strong demand but they have suffered also. For instance, near the village of Puckane, on the north-eastern side of the lake, Allsop Space sold 12 holiday homes at its auction last December for a combined €260,000 or €21,666 each.
In complete contrast, Dolores McNamara, winner of €115m in the Euromillions lottery, is reported to have paid €3.5m in 2012 for the Tinarana estate, a period house and former health farm on 100 acres. Reports also suggest that she had to outbid prospective overseas buyers from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain. Joint agents on the deal were Ganly Walters and GVM Crosse.
During the boom, in 2006, Dr Paschal Carmody had sold Tinarana estate to a development consortium, Tinarana Ltd, for in the region of €13m. Ms McNamara is also reported to have paid about €1.7m for another residence, Lough Derg Hall.
Around Portumna, Co Galway, on the northern shores of the lake, one of the more attractive houses currently for sale is Lake View, Stoney Island, which boasts its own private deep water harbour, separate slipway and large storage sheds capable of housing boats. Located on a 2.5 acre site, 4.5km from Portumna, the 152-sq-m house has three bedrooms. DNG Gilmartin is quoting €445,000 for the property.
Another factor which augurs well for future values and accentuates the premium prices for lakeside homes is the lack of planning permissions for any new lakefront developments.
One of the few, if not the only, newbuild house with berthage for sale is Cois Locha, Ballynagleragh, Ogonnelloe, Killaloe. At 299 sq m it has seven bedrooms and five bathrooms. Harry Brann has cut its asking price from €725,000 to €399,000, indicating that some vendors remain a little too optimistic over the recent lift in lakeside sales activity.