Whether you prefer a cozy cottage or a lordly mansion, there’s plenty of real estate to tempt you nowadays on the Emerald Isle.
The real estate market in Ireland is deeply distressed. That’s why the deals here are so exciting. You can buy a 1.5-acre lot in a picturesque County Clare village for just $13,000. Or a comfortable vacation home close to miles of sandy beaches, world-class golf, and the dramatic Atlantic coastline for $87,000. (Real estate here is priced in euros. As I write, one euro buys you $1.31.)
Surfers, golfers, walkers, musicians, and fishermen come from all over the world to spend time here. At night, charming villages and medieval cities are filled with the buzz of music, banter, and conversation.
Despite the recession, Ireland’s beautiful and historic buildings are still standing. Most people still have jobs…and need somewhere to live. Most businesses continue to trade…and need space to sell or make their wares.
In April 2011, Ireland had its first “fire sale” auction. The UK auction house Allsop came to town to sell homes, condos, and offices, much to the annoyance of local real estate agents and banks, who were still trying to talk up the market.
In that first auction, units sold at a discount of up to 80% off peak prices. Allsop has successfully sold around 90% of its inventory at five auctions to date. And the deals are getting better. Its next auction is being held on May 3.
Huge Discounts on Mansion Properties in Ireland
You can buy country estates in Ireland with a ﬁne mansion for the value of the land that comes with it, if the house needs lots of attention. Or you could buy something in “move-in” condition that still comes with an attractive sticker.
Below are two fine properties currently on offer. You won’t find these properties at auction, but the prices in each case have been greatly reduced.
The air is thick and pungent and the ceiling black. This was the smokerie, where brown trout pulled from the lake were smoked. Nearby is an unfamiliar contraption used for plucking pheasants after a shoot. The stable next to that one is packed with 19th-century sash windows. The Italianate mansion of Slevoir is a gem and its stable yard is a treasure trove of a bygone age, when the gentry of Ireland spent their time in country pursuits, attended grand balls, and held summer parties amid landscaped gardens.
Today you can get this 15,000-square-foot house, with gardens that roll down to Lough Derg, and these stables, for a steal. The owner of Slevoir is asking $860,420. That’s for the stables, walled garden, the private marina, and 40 acres of farmland. Farmland is good here and you can spend up to $13,239 an acre on it.
If you ﬁgure the farmland could be sold for $529,550—the market for farmland is strong in Ireland—you’re getting the house and stables for $330,870. This is the type of deal you will ﬁnd in Ireland today.
A bargain mansion or better. You can buy a country house in need of repair and make back your money selling off the surrounding farmland. Built in 1870 and designed by John McCurdy, who designed Dublin’s luxurious Shelbourne Hotel, Slevoir sits above Lough Derg, where the river Shannon enters the lake. Lough Derg is one of three large lakes on the river Shannon. At 32,000 acres, it’s a playground for boating, ﬁshing, and sailing. From your private berth you could cruise the longest navigable waterway in Europe.
The walled garden at Slevoir is substantial—maybe ﬁve acres. This is where exotic fruit trees and flowers were planted. Where guests would be impressed. A tunnel brings you from the stables and walled garden area to the kitchen and servants’ quarters of the house.
The entrance hall to the house flows into a stately baronial hall. The carved timber staircase is illuminated from the glazed atrium above. Ceiling plasterwork is ornate and decorative…the main feature of the principal hall and reception rooms. Off the reception area or baronial hall, the main entertaining rooms include a double drawing room and dining room with a ﬁne curved bow window and a study.
On the second ﬂoor you have a brightly lit gallery. It leads to seven bedrooms on that ﬂoor. (There are 11 bedrooms in the main house in total.) On top of the gallery is a four-story campanile tower. The stable block could be converted into up to 20 townhomes or guest suites.
The main house is entered from the lakeside village of Terryglass via a long lane lined by mature trees and stone walls. Limerick City, Galway City, and Shannon airport are one hour away. Dublin is an hour-and-a-half to two-hours, depending on traffic.
This mansion was bought with plans to build a luxury golf and fishing resort. But the Irish real estate bubble burst. Projects like this were doomed. Promoters are up to their necks in debt and need to get out. Now there are deals to be done.
Of course, this house needs work. And it will be expensive to heat and maintain. But it would make a great country retreat. Or a country guesthouse. Or sailing school. Or a corporate headquarters. It could easily be converted to multiple uses.
Kilkea Castle: Price Reduced by Millions
Two years ago historic Kilkea Castle, County Kildare, was advertised by a receiver for $21 million. (A receiver is typically an accountant appointed by the courts to extract the maximum value for a bankrupt business on behalf of creditors.) Last February the price was reduced to $8 million. When I visited I guessed that $4 million would buy this resort facility. Maybe much less now.
Included in the deal is the 36-bedroom castle with extensive bar and restaurant areas that had been operating as a hotel and wedding venue until late 2009. The adjoining golf course (not currently being maintained), clubhouse, lands, and 27 holiday homes—some only partially complete—are included in the sale.
That’s more than 110,000 square feet of construction, which—if it sold at $4 million—is a paltry $36 per square foot. That’s before you ﬁgure the value of the golf course. The land totals 140 acres. This land alone could be worth $1.3 million for agricultural use. And Kilkea is only one hour from Dublin.
Deals like the above two aren’t a one-off. There are lots of them. And there are more to come. It all depends on what you are looking for.
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About the author: Ronan McMahon is a director of Pathfinder, IL’s preferred Real Estate advertiser.