Sunny south east is shining
Wexford's reputation as the heart of Ireland's sunny south east has made it popular with home-hunters as well as with those in search of holiday homes convenient to the capital.
During the last decade, Wexford benefited from a massive €300m development boom, which included the construction of thousands of new houses, apartments, and improvements to transport networks.
Indeed, some Wexford towns, such as Gorey, grew at a phenomenal rate -- it became one of the fastest-growing satellite towns in Ireland. The result is that house-hunters have a wide selection from which to chose.
A 2006 survey by market research company Experian revealed that Gorey was one of many 'Outer Ring Communities' where thousands of Dubliners had migrated in search of affordable larger homes, which they were prepared to commute to and from daily.
Decentralistion of some government departments, including Revenue to Wexford town and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to Enniscorthy and Wexford town, further boosted the county's economy, and had a knock-on effect on improving transport networks between Wexford, Dublin and the rest of the country.
Good infrastructure, and ease of access due to the M11, significantly reduced travel time between Dublin and Wexford, another factor that influenced a massive increase in the construction and purchase of holiday homes during recent years.
As the main driving route from Dublin to Wexford, the N/M11 includes a link with the M50 that bypasses Shankill and Bray, and a 14km stretch bypassing Ashford, Rathnew and Wicklow.
Wexford's main towns include Gorey, Rosslare, Enniscorthy and Wexford, all of which have undergone major redevelopment in recent years, and all are accessible by a daily rail service.
However, the shelving of the Enniscorthy bypass until 2015 was a disappointment for the county, particularly for those in the transport and haulage industries.
The 13th largest county in Ireland, Wexford has a population of 131,749, according to the 2006 Census, and the county was one of the fastest growing in the last two decades, increasing its population by 29.1pc compared to the rest of Ireland, which grew by 20.3pc.
Renowned for its thriving arts and theatre scene, Wexford's association with the annual Opera Festival has put the county on the international map, and each autumn the festival attracts thousands of visitors and musicians, with its professional production of many of the lesser-known operas.
As part of Wexford's re-development, the Theatre Royal underwent a €20m refurbishment programme.
The county's colourful history stretches back to the Neolithic, as evidenced by the dolmens at Ballybrittas, and its Viking past is also obvious in Wexford town's unique architecture.
In more recent years, Wexford was a commercial and employment hub in the south east, and as a result, the county had a lively property market in new homes, apartments and holiday homes.
Like the rest of the country, Wexford has felt the impact of current economic conditions, and property prices have undergone a similar decline.
The most recent Daft Report, for the first quarter of 2011, reveals that property prices in Wexford fell a further 4.7pc since the last quarter in 2010.
The year-on-year change showed that property in Wexford had fallen by 17.7pc since the first quarter in 2010, and prices overall were down 46.5pc since the peak of the market.
Wexford property now represents better value for many buyers, particularly first-timers or those who are lucky enough to be able to trade upwards.
In Wexford town, two-bed townhouses have an asking price of €110,000; three-beds are on the market for around €160,000 or less, while four-bed family homes close to the centre of town and Wexford General Hospital are asking €225,000.
In the Parkview residential development very close to the hospital, a four-bed, two-bath house is seeking just €185,000, indicating that there is good value-for-money for buyers looking for decent-sized family homes.
Holiday homes in popular resorts like Courtown are also more in the affordable bracket these days, with a four-bed home in Harbour Court asking €140,000.
Three-bed holiday homes in Rosslare Strand are also priced around the €140,000 mark.
In the quieter holiday areas, prices are even more affordable, with a four-bed, two-bath house in Seamount Village, Riverchapel on the market for €90,000.
DIY enthusiasts have plenty to choose from in rural Wexford.
A three-bed detached cottage with a large garden, known as 'The School-master's Cottage' in Wellington Bridge, is currently asking €75,000.
In Gorey, one of the most popular commuting towns during the boom, three-bed semis in pristine condition are on the market for around €120,000.