West Cork Property Market Update

February 7, 2020
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By Con O’Neill, Director, Sherry FitzGerald O’Neill

We are starting with some company updates. We were absolutely delighted to be awarded Best Office in the Small Town Category and selected as one of the 4 finalists in this years Sherry FitzGerald Franchise of the Year Awards 2020. With 95 offices nationally competing for the awards, winning the Small Town Category and getting to the finals is a significant achievement for us. This award is a true testament to our fantastic team and our wonderful clients. If anyone has questions on any of the below, feel free to email me at con@sfoneill.ie.

Property Prices in West Cork

Sherry FitzGerald Chief Economist Marian Finnegan has published her latest analysis of the Irish Residential Market for 2019:

Generally, it was a flat pricing environment, whereby prices nationally rose by just 0.2%. The low levels of growth in the year were primarily a result of the macroprudential rules becoming increasingly binding. Poorer market sentiment in the year also served as a drag on prices, as Brexit concerns unnerved buyers. Prices in the South-West, taking in Cork and Kerry, rose 1.3% in 2019.

Due to the relatively low number of transactions in our West Cork towns, the most reliable measure of property prices is the Median Price published by the CSO.  The Median Price per Eircode shows P75-Bantry at €174,500, P81-Skibbereen at €199,000 and P85-Clonakilty €232,500 for the 12 months to November 2019.

Who bought property in 2019?

In 2019, 1 in 3 properties we sold at SF O’Neill was to an international buyer while the UK market accounted for 17% of our total purchasers throughout the year. 52% of buyers were local to West Cork with the remaining 15% made up of buyers throughout the rest of Ireland. Statistics published by the CSO show that 56% of buyers across West Cork had previously owned a property with first-time buyers accounting for 11% of the total. 33% of the market was made up of Investors and the Holiday Home market.

Sales by Buyer Type (Year to November 2019)
P85 – Clonakilty P81 – Skibbereen P75 – Bantry Combined
First-Time Buyer 16 (15%) 10 (7%) 15 (11%) 41 (11%)
Non-Occupier 32 (29%) 52 (37%) 43 (32%) 127 (33%)
Former Owner-Occupier 62 (56%) 79 (56%) 75 (56%) 216 (56%)
Total Sales Volume 110 141 133 384
Source: CSO

Comparing the Property Price Register sales statistics to data from the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland indicates that 38% of single property transactions in the opening nine months of 2019 did not have a mortgage. This represented a decrease on the 40% recorded for the comparable period in 2018.

Outlook for 2020

Skibbereen, Bantry and surrounding areas aligned with the national trend of a slowdown in price growth in 2019. With the constraints on mortgage lending effectively controlling price inflation, namely central bank rules limiting the majority of borrowers to 3.5 times salary along with loan-to-value restrictions, the trend is expected to continue through 2020. Clonakilty bucked the trend through 2019 with a shortage in the supply of property in the area leading to higher prices. 2020 offers some hope for buyers with a significant number of new builds set to come on the market over the next 2 years.

Although still early days, last December’s election results in the UK have, temporarily at the very least, removed some degree of uncertainty from the whole Brexit process. This should feed positively into the housing market.

There is finally some light at the end of the tunnel for the rental market. The private rental market has been pushed to breaking point with the negligible number of social houses delivered since the downturn and the state relying on the private rental market to meet the demand for social houses. Figures provided by Maurice Manning, Director of Housing at Cork County Council, to the Southern Star in July provide a number for just how much pressure is being applied. In the West Cork Municipal District area, the Council has leased 448 housing units for people on the local authority’s housing list. With work commenced on 107 social houses in Clonakilty and 50 in Skibbereen, pressure on the market should ease. Bantry’s social housing need has suffered a setback however after a 52-unit development hit delays with an appeal to be heard by An Bord Pleanala.