Saturday 21 September 2019

Strong demand expected for these two new apartment launches

Buyer demand for apartments is strong, writes Liadan Hynes, particularly from first-time buyers and downsizers

Eustace Court launches 36 apartments at Cualanor, on the former Dun Laoghaire Golf Club
Eustace Court launches 36 apartments at Cualanor, on the former Dun Laoghaire Golf Club

This week sees the launch of two new apartment developments, one in Castleknock and one in Dun Laoghaire, both much-needed stock coming to market in response to strong buyer demand. Given the lack of good-sized apartments designed to suit those with families, many buyers trading up might not put an apartment at the top of their wish list. However, estate agents report there is strong demand from several other sectors of the market, particularly from downsizers looking to purchase new, energy-efficient, spacious apartments near where they currently live - typically Dublin's more prestigious suburbs. There is also demand from first-time buyers who have been priced out of the three-bed, semi-detached market and don't wish to move further out to the commuter belt.

Single people, professional couples without children and those who have lived in apartments abroad or have rented here for a number of years and grown acclimatised to apartment living, also make up a portion of the apartment market.

The open-plan living/dining area is double aspect
The open-plan living/dining area is double aspect

For all of these groups, supply is a major issue."Unlike the new housing market (the three- and four-bed, suburban semi-detached market), the apartment market, both for sale and rental, is largely dysfunctional at present," says Ken MacDonald of Hooke & MacDonald. "And its deterioration really is at the heart of the crisis conditions now in the rental sector.

"As well as this, it is actually contributing to the spread of homelessness. There's a huge demand for apartments both to rent and buy, but there's very limited supply. Recently the Taoiseach mentioned that there's a strong demand for apartments within the canals and that that's the area that needs a focus, but that's totally misleading. There's a massive demand for apartments in areas like Dundrum, and Dun Laoghaire, Clontarf, Swords, Malahide and Castleknock. We launched Bracken Park in Castleknock last year and 75 apartments sold out very quickly. Wherever there's good transport infrastructure and centres of employment in particular, there's a strong demand for apartments.

"Unless there's a dramatic increase in supply, the conditions in the rental and sales market are going to deteriorate further," maintains MacDonald. "The measures politicians are talking about are only scratching the surface in terms of solutions."

Prohibitive building costs are blamed as the major culprit for the shortage of stock. "The main problem is that unless a developer owns land for a long number of years at a historically low purchase price, it is not financially viable to build apartments in most parts of Dublin," says MacDonald. "It is in Dublin 4 and Dublin 6 but not in other areas of the city."

The four-storey Bramley Hall at Hamilton Park launches 22 two-bed units, with open-plan living/dining/kitchen area this week
The four-storey Bramley Hall at Hamilton Park launches 22 two-bed units, with open-plan living/dining/kitchen area this week

Various factors are responsible for the high cost of building apartments, including building regulations regarding the number of lift cores, dual aspect requirements, underground parking spaces, and the 13.5pc VAT rate. Added to these issues is the fact that in contrast to new home schemes where a project can launch with as little as two units, an entire apartment development must be built before it can be launched.

Ronan O'Driscoll, of Sherry FitzGerald, who launched Seascape in Clontarf, the first post-recession apartment block, which has since sold out, acknowledges that "apartments have been much slower to emerge than the housing market has", due to costs.

This week's launches are tailor-made to appeal to the typical apartment buyer. David Browne, head of new homes for Savills, says of Dun Laoghaire that "there's a trade-down -buyer market that's not being fed at all. They don't want old apartments, because they're not energy efficient. They want big, quality, large apartments and they don't exist in the suburbs, because no one's building them."

Eustace Court in Dun Laoghaire is launched by Cosgraves today on its Cualanor site at what was once Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, off the Upper Glenageary Road. The first 36 of a total of 96 apartments and penthouses will be released today.

A view of the open-plan living/dining/kitchen area
A view of the open-plan living/dining/kitchen area

As with all Cosgrave developments, landscaping has been prioritised at Eustace Court. It boasts a six-acre park, with a mixture of woodland areas, open parkland spaces, a communal piazza, jogging paths and a playground, as well as mature trees in the landscaped courtyard of this block.

The development includes a mixture of one-, two-, and three-bed apartments and two- and three-bed penthouse apartments. Floors throughout are a mixture of tiles and engineered wood flooring. There are wardrobes in the main bedrooms, contemporary kitchen presses, and all appliances are included. All bedrooms have been wired for TV and Wi-Fi. Ceilings are 2.68m high, above standard.

One-bed units are priced from €375,000, for 59.8-64sqm, two-bed units, from €450,000, from 81.2-92sqm, and three-beds are €560,000, from 104-119sqm.

In Castleknock, Carolyn Strauss of Sherry FitzGerald, selling agent for Bramley Park, says she is expecting a buyer profile similar to that at adjacent apartment block Cherry Hall, which launched in July and has since almost entirely sold out - mainly to first-time buyers and a number of trade-down purchasers.

Bramley Park, the brand-new apartment block at Park Development's Hamilton Park scheme, is situated off the Diswellstown Road. The first phase of the development launched in late 2015, and so far has seen sales of over 200 houses and apartments. The latest addition is a four-storey block comprised of 22 two-bed apartments, each with an allocated parking space. All bedrooms are double, and units are sized from 84-103sqm, priced at €310,000. These apartments come with utility rooms with countertop and washer/dryers, as well as a hot press. Some include a third storage room.

Eustace Court, Uppr Glenageary Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Agent: Hooke & MacDonald (01) 631 8402

Viewing: Today, 2.30-4.30pm, Tuesday, October 3, 1-2pm

Bramley Park, Hamilton Park, Diswellstown Road, Castleknock, Dublin 15

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 237 6300

Viewing: Today, 12-2pm

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