ONE Limerick auctioneer has had around €15 million worth of house sales in recent weeks with a number of purchasers moving down from Dublin.
Tom Crosse, GVM’s group property director, said buyers are swapping the capital for Limerick because, due to Covid-19, they can now work from home and housing is more affordable here. He says there is demand in both the city and county depending on the person or couple’s preference.
Mr Crosse says some are originally from Limerick and can now move home from Dublin, while others have no ties to the county. In one case a man, who continues to be employed by a company in a foreign country, has bought a house in Limerick to work from.
July and August are traditionally auctioneers’ quiet period but Mr Crosse has overseen a “barrage of sales” in the city and county.
“There is a big increase in people looking to move from Dublin to Limerick. One couple working in Dublin, who are buying a house in Limerick, said they have got approval to move from their bosses. They told me they can work from home four days a week with one day in Dublin. They told me the same house in Dublin would cost them double,” said Mr Crosse.
The demand is driven by those able to and wanting to work from home.
“People are gravitating where there is good broadband. I have had people come to test broadband speed in houses. What people are looking for is the capacity to have an office in the house.
“I had one house recently that was owned previously by an accountant. He had three offices. All three bidders in that instance were bidding on it for office use because they wanted to live and work from home,” said Mr Crosse.
A large percentage of the €15 million in sales is in the new development, Newtown Manor in Castletroy. Prices for a three-bed end of terrace start at €292,000. €298,000 for a three bed semi-detached; €330,000 for a detached three-bed; €365,000 for a four-bed semi -detached and €420,000 for a detached four-bed. Of the 38 houses in the residential development just two remain – four-bed detached.
“We launched pre-Covid and then we stopped because of Covid. We then apprehensively went back at it directly after lockdown but we are flying it. It is mainly first-time buyers; couples moving down from Dublin for more affordable housing who are able to work remotely.
“I had one couple working in Dublin who had to cancel their wedding due to Covid. I said to the bride, ‘It was very disappointing for ye.”
“She said it was but, ‘What Covid has done for us now is that it has allowed us to move down to Limerick, approved by our bosses, buy a lovely house down here - something we wouldn’t have been able to do in Dublin’. Out of adversity comes opportunity,” said Mr Crosse.
About half the houses in Newtown Manor, built by Formation Homes, are completed. New owners will get their keys in late September. It is hoped it will be completely finished in January.
Mr Crosse touched elbows (the new shaking hands) in selling the showhouse on Sunday afternoon with the aforementioned gentleman, who continues to work for a company abroad but will live in Limerick.
The commentators have been forecasting a fall in house prices but that isn’t happening on the ground in Limerick, he says.
“We are at a low level anyway. We are very good value for a three-bed semi in Limerick. The government has increased the Help to Buy scheme to €30,000, up from €20,000.
“If you were to rent a Newtown Manor type house in the morning it would cost you €1,500 a month. A mortgage is only going to cost you €1,000 a month over 30 years. The cost of paying a mortgage now is less than rent.
“During lockdown a lot of people paused deals but afterwards when they saw the market reigniting they went back to battle, drove on and concluded their sales. Traditionally July and August are very quiet but we are after a fantastic July. August would look to be as busy as well,” concluded Mr Crosse.