Sunday 21 January 2018

Let's do the time warp

Holiday homes, which were built in the 1970s, are deliberately designed to look like they're from another era

One of the detached thatched cottages at Puckane, Co Tipperary, which go under the hammer at the RDS on December 10
One of the detached thatched cottages at Puckane, Co Tipperary, which go under the hammer at the RDS on December 10
One of the detached thatched cottages at Puckane, Co Tipperary, which go under the hammer at the RDS on December 10
One of the detached thatched cottages at Puckane, Co Tipperary, which go under the hammer at the RDS on December 10
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

IF you were to wander down to the village of Puckane in Co Tipperary, it would be easy to think you had entered a time warp.

In this modern age we have come to expect houses coming to market that feature the best of everything, and screams that message from the rooftops.

Floor to ceiling length windows and all mod cons are the order of the day.

In that world, the village at Puckane is something of an anachronism. While many of the holiday homes that were built during the boom screamed "technology" and "tax breaks", Puckane does neither of these things. They hark back to a simpler, and perhaps more innocent, time in our history.

Built in the 1970s, the 12 houses, which are being sold as one lot at next month's Allsop Space auction, are unusual in their appearance to say the least.

The holiday homes may have been constructed as part of the Shannon development programme of 35 years ago, but in style they are much more like something out of the 19th Century.

Ten of the 12 dwellings are thatched, and are quite deliberately set up to appear as if they are from a much earlier time.

The remaining properties have slate roofs, but are still very much set up to be from a century before their actual build date.

The property is in receivership and is being sold by Grant Thornton. The houses, which are being sold as one lot, had a guide price of €350,000 for the entire lot when they appeared at another Allsop auction earlier in the year.

Clearly though, the market disagreed with the valuation and they failed to sell. Now the asking price has been cut to €250,000.

According to Allsop Space, the homes were built as holiday rentals and have been quite popular.

The issue for most holiday homes however, has been the same one for years. During the boom, it really didn't matter where the homes were located or what occupancy numbers were going to be.

"People assumed the capital value of the properties would keep going up and that was the key metric," says Allsop's Robert Hoban.

Nowadays though, Irish investors and potential buyers from overseas have reverted back to the traditional model of the holiday homes industry.

"The occupancy rate is key once again. People want to know where the homes are, what is close by in terms of facilities, and what the history of occupancy rates have been in the region.

"That is the way it has always been outside of Ireland during the bubble -- as a country though we forgot those basic points. Now those measures have returned and are as important as they always were," he adds.

With tax loopholes closed, and capital values a fraction of what they were five years ago, the holiday home market has changed rapidly.

Still, Mr Hoban claims there has been widespread interest in the Puckane development, with both domestic and international interest, even from as far away as Israel.

"There are a lot of holiday homes on the market, but they are selling well," Mr Hoban says.

Like any investment in Ireland today though, they are only selling if the numbers add up.

Puckane itself is a small village located in the north of Tipperary. It is located approximately 9km on the Dublin side of Nenagh and just over a mile east of Lough Derg.

In many ways the lough is the key to the apparent attraction of the Puckane development as a holiday location.

Lough Derg is well known as a centre for both fishing and water sports and is likely to be the main selling point for any potential buyer. Crucially, the houses are also on the Dublin side of the lough. That makes getting down to the houses from the capital a much easier prospect.

A scoot down the M7 motorway to Nenagh and then on the Puckane takes less than two hours.

If travelling to the west side of the lough, however, you can add another half an hour or so to the journey. Most of that extra 30 minutes however, would be on secondary roads. That in itself can be enough of a reason for potential buyers to avoid holiday homes on the "far" side of Lough Derg.

The properties are located in the centre of the village approximately 100m to the north of the Main Street. Amenities in the area include Lough Derg Yacht Club and Shannon Sailing Club which are both located in the nearby town of Dromineer.

The properties comprise 12 three-bedroom dormer cottages arranged over a single storey with eight detached and four semi-detached.

All 12 houses are built to the same specifications. Accommodation includes a reception and dining area, kitchen, three bedrooms, and a main bathroom.

Perhaps not surprisingly given their build date, the houses have a BER energy rating of "G".

Despite the limitations that some people may see in these small scale developments, in many ways the limited number of homes involved in the development work in favour of a successful sale.

Allsop Space claim to have seen substantial interest in the sector in general from holiday home rental firms such as Holidays Ireland, who buy the properties, give them a lick of paint as needed, and then advertise them heavily and rent them out.

Given the location, those rentals would be quite seasonal, but Allsop Space have no doubt that cottages can be a viable investment.

The Puckane properties make up Lot 127 of the next big auction being run by Allsop Space which will be held on December 10 at the RDS in Dublin.

While the auction consists largely of commercial properties, there are a substantial number of vacant flats and houses that will go under the hammer at the RDS.

While the top listed price in the auction is €1.35m for an office and industrial complex, reserves are as low as €15,000 for a flat in Castlebar, and lower again for certain land and sites.

While most of the properties for sale are just the kind of units you would expect to see up for sale, the Puckane properties stand out from the crowd. They may not be the glass and steel type homes we are used to seeing these days, but they certainly have their own, old school, charms.

The Puckane properties are available for viewing next Monday, December 2 until Monday, December 9 between 9am and 10am. This is an open viewing with no appointment required.

Irish Independent

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