West Kerry has hit a perfect storm when it comes to providing houses for young local families. With property prices out of reach, severe planning restrictions on one-off houses, and Kerry County Council approving planning permission for large numbers of apartments in Dingle, it now appears that young families will no longer be able to rear children in a traditional family home for the first time since the foundation of the State.
The traditional family home with three or four bedrooms and a garden is now the most sought after type of property in West Kerry. However, the buyers of these properties are mostly people who are relocating to West Kerry from cities, while locals can’t compete in a market where prices that have risen to record levels.
According to Dingle based auctioneers, city people who want to relocate are able to sell their existing homes at very high prices and are then able to afford to pay more for a house in West Kerry, which is driving up prices here.
Unwittingly, they are driving young local families out of the market. “Every second house that I sell, they say we are locating here and working from home,” said Dingle auctioneer Mike Kennedy. “Very few locals are buying - you don’t have the incomes here”.
It may be true to say now that “ní bheidh ár leithéid arís ann” because of the huge difficulty people have getting planning permission to build on their own land, the shortage of properties coming onto the market, and prices that have been driven out of reach of local people.
Mike said that ‘distance workers’ are now the biggest driver of demand for houses in West Kerry. “Pre-Covid 70 – 80 per cent of the houses I sold were for holiday homes, now every second house is being bought by distance workers,” he said.
Mike said some of the distance workers are locals who are seizing the opportunity to return to West Kerry and work from home. However, the vast majority are people from the cities, who “love West Kerry” and want to move here permanently. They can sell their city homes for very high prices, which gives them a lot of spending power when they seek to buy in West Kerry, driving up prices.
The tale of a changing population of house owners in West Kerry is recognised by property experts and reflected in the figures published on the Property Price Register, which shows that prices have increased by 10 per cent every year for the past three years.
Local auctioneers think house price increases over recent years may be even higher than these figures suggest. “There is easily a 10 per cent increase per year,” said local auctioneer Anthony Fitzgerald. “You’d be lucky to see anything for under €300,000, except for houses needing a lot of work.”
He said there is a big demand for houses in Dingle and anywhere with sea views. This demand is coming predominantly from Irish buyers, mostly people from the cities who are looking for holiday homes but, he said, there is an increasing demand from people who want to move permanently to West Kerry.
According to Mike Kennedy, the downside is that West Kerry locals can’t compete with the higher prices being offered for houses in their home area and they are being driven out of the market.
Anthony Fitzgerald agreed: “There’s the odd local, but they’re the exception rather than the rule because of affordability.”
Meanwhile, Kerry County Council has approved planning permission for three separate apartment developments in Dingle town over the past couple of months. Developers made the case in their planning applications that apartments are needed to fill the housing demand of modern families. However, the lack of availability of affordable traditional homes tells a different story, which those in authority do not appear to have heard.