Roseanne De Vere-Hunt, Director and Head of Country Homes at Sherry FitzGerald reflects on an active year for the country homes market in today’s Business Post
The country homes market was one of, if not, the standout performer this year in the Irish property market, with activity vibrant nationally.
The country homes market has undergone a renaissance since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Buyers have been enticed by the change in lifestyle these properties allow and new more flexible working from home options greater facilitate this lifestyle change. Buyers who previously needed to live close to the cities for ease of commute, now have the opportunity of living further away. Now many workers have the option of going to the office only a few days a week or even working entirely from home.
With flexible working arrangements now looking set to become a permanent feature of the workplace, buyers are willing to look further a field in search of better value for money and a better lifestyle. All of this led to heightened demand and activity in the country homes market throughout 2021. As a result of this and the national lockdown at the start of the year which inhibited new listings, demand vastly outstripped supply in 2021.
The key driver of this demand, particularly from town and city dwellers, has been the renewed appetite for space. More garden and outdoor area, as well as homes with a separate space to work in, along with greater privacy, are currently top of buyer’s wish lists, as they look to rediscover the pleasures of country living.
This is good news for smaller towns and villages in rural Ireland, with families relocating there and helping rejuvenate these areas. However, with relocation comes some challenges. One of the first questions that buyers now ask is “what is the broadband speed”. This is now one of the most important factors for buyers as good internet connectivity is essential for working from home. To help with this, many towns are now opening hubs, so that strong broadband can be obtained, and people can come together and share ideas.
Another property type that became highly sought after during the pandemic was prime coastal properties, in particular for use as second homes or holiday homes. The first half of the year saw intense interest from Irish buyers looking for a second home, as their usual travel to and holidaying in warmer climates looked likely to be more restricted in the near future. These buyers were looking for properties with plenty of space and that were either on or had views of the water. Towards the second half 2021, there was even stronger demand as ex-pat and international buyers were able to get to Ireland. They too were looking for second homes of this type. Overall, there was a shortage of supply of quality waterfront properties, which resulted in competitive bidding in some instances. The areas most in demand were West Cork, Kerry and along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Many of the larger estates also changed hands this year and now there is a shortage of quality estates on the market. The demand is there from both Irish and international buyers looking to either move from the city, move back to Ireland, or establish a strong base here.
We see this heightened demand within in the country homes market continuing into 2022 and even beyond. The level of enquiries is still very high, and a huge volume of parties have been added to our database over the last few months. There seems to be an overall shift in the way people will live going forward and a move away from the city looks more likely as people seek a better family and lifestyle balance.