Dollars are big bucks


The US buyer was the standout performer in this particular segment of the market, which proved strong in Cork, writes Roseanne De Vere Hunt

Irish Examiner, Saturday 31st December 2022

The country homes market in 2022 has seen a continuation of the excellent trading conditions that swept in since the pandemic, and demand remains strong with a lack of supply to meet it. Market activity has been fast paced and often highly competitive, with properties remaining available for a far shorter time period than previously seen. Of particular note is the fast-growing access to speedy broadband and improved tech connectivity, allowing families to have a different relationship with how they use their rural home.

The standout performer for 2022, was the international buyer and predominantly the US buyer. Visits to our website from US visitors rose by 42% year on year. The US buyer has been spurred on by the strength of the dollar, making a purchase in Euro very attractive. The US buyer was particularly strong from summer onwards and this is a trend we can see continuing into next year. The US buyers are either ex-pat buyers, or US buyers with no connection to Ireland. The ex-pats are now seeing this as a perfect time to purchase, having considered it over the last few years during the pandemic, with the strength of the dollar helping them to make the move. Many of these buyers have strong buying power and are considering larger country estates.

The US buyer without a connection to Ireland like the fact that Ireland is the only country in the EU with English as our first language, attractive stamp duty rates, no additional taxes for international buyers, relatively low property taxes, peaceful and tranquil countryside, beautiful scenery, exceptional golf courses, good connection to the US, EU and the UK. The pure US buyer with no connections to Ireland, are generally looking for a second home and a house by water is their priority. They like the idea of getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city and getting to Ireland to a quiet piece of heaven. Many US buyers require assistance on purchasing in Ireland, as they aren’t used to the process here, as the US system greatly differs.

We have seen the growth of buying agents acting representing their US clients. This is extremely useful for their internationally based clients, with boots on the ground, to go and look at these houses before their clients make the trip over. It also assists in keeping the sale running smoothly. Most US buyers are cash buyers and don’t require a mortgage or loan, but will ask for radon surveys and pest surveys, which is commonplace in the US prior to a sale and something we are now more conscious of looking into prior to going to the market. US buyers tend to be less area specific, so when they are coming over, they will look at several properties in different areas.

Off market sales

This year recorded many off-market sales, in other words, privately and without ever being advertised. This approach is popular with sellers wanting a discreet transaction and allows buyers to access sought-after properties not typically available on the open market. All country homes agents have a large database of registered buyers and these buyers are waiting for a property that will suit their requirements.

Many vendors prefer to sell quietly off market, without any fuss and off the radar. Once we are given instructions by the vendor to go to our databases, we can quickly sift through and find a number of parties that may have an interest. Buyers like the idea of securing a property without competition and will often pay more to secure a property that suits them.

Top country homes sales for 2022

County Cork was a star performer this year of the top country homes sales outside of Dublin, with Kinsale attributing three of these sales through Compass Hill, Kinsale at a reported €5.5million, Raffeen, Scilly, Kinsale at €4.75million and Avalon, Sandycove, Kinsale at €2.35million. Other notable Cork sales were Stone Hall, Glandore at €3.399million, Dripsey Castle (not completed as yet) but reported to be in the late €5million mark, Windy Ridge, Rochestown Road at €2.5million and Otterbank, Castletownbere at €2.21million. Country Cork has a wonderful combination of beautiful scenery, amazing coastline, and the benefit of being the gourmet capital of Ireland, so its no wonder it justifies the top sales of the year.

Outside Cork there were other stand out country homes sales, to include Rathmore House near Naas, Co. Kildare at €3.685million, The Tunnel, The Burnaby, Greystones, Co. Wicklow at €2.8million, Woodridge House and Farm, Dunsaney, Co. Meath at €2.75million.

All the above sales and prices were reported by The Irish Times.

Into 2023

Privacy, tranquillity, and space will continue to command premiums, and as inflation rises ever higher, property becomes an increasingly attractive asset. The international buyer shows no sign of slowing down and if the dollar continues its strength against the Euro, 2023 should be another good year for the country homes market.

Roseanne De Vere Hunt is Director and Head of Country Homes at Sherry FitzGerald. Exclusive Irish affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate.