House hunters are returning to their native counties as they turn their backs on city living and take advantage of remote working.
ew housing data show prices in the country’s regional towns have risen by almost 1pc in 12 weeks to €163,345, compared to less than 0.5pc experienced in bigger population centres. The average time to sell a property has fallen 30pc.
The trend confirms a change in buyer priorities for home-buying as the Covid pandemic has demonstrated that working from home is a viable option for tens of thousands of people.
The Irish Independent/ Real Estate Alliance (REA) Average House Price Index also shows that, nationwide, property prices continue to hold up.
The sale value of a three-bedroomed semi-detached house across the country has risen slightly – up by 0.6pc on average over the past three months to €236,046, a rise of 0.4pc compared to a year ago.
A nationwide rush to buy has caused the average time taken to sell a property to tumble from 10 weeks in June to seven in September.
Buyers are expressly asking for homes based on broadband coverage, home office potential, and garden space rather than factors such as commuter-friendliness and transport links, which have previously dominated.
“Maybe one in five purchases is from people cashing in on their sales in Dublin and moving to larger houses down the country. People are making life-changing decisions to be based down the country,” said Harry Sothern, of REA Sothern in Carlow.
In a busy last period, REA Dawson in Tullow also reports selling a number of houses to clients who are now planning to work from home.
“It is clear that broadband is absolutely key for buyers and good amenities and space have become more important than transport links and commuting time,” said REA spokesperson Barry McDonald.
In Leitrim, property is now selling within five weeks of coming on the market.
REA agent Joe Brady is seeing clients buy in Leitrim with the intention of spending a maximum two days a week working in Dublin, a two-hour train journey away.
Properties with home office potential are being snapped up around the country, with REA Seamus Carthy in Roscommon having 43 potential buyers on a waiting list for homes with garden space priced between €350,000 and €500,000.
“All of the buyers are families who are either moving home or have decided to move out of bigger urban locations in search of more space and a better quality of life,” he said.
“We have also seen a resurgence in demand in coastal areas such as west Cork, Kerry, Waterford and Donegal as people realise that holiday homes can be more permanent.”
Meanwhile estate agents in the big cities and regions alike are reporting both a rush to buy and a reluctance to sell that is causing concern over market distortion.
In the cities, buyers are also anxious to conclude deals, but for different reasons.