The Perfect Time To Buy A Home in Ireland

In Dublin’s fair city there’s no finer area than Dublin 2. Terraces of large historic Georgian houses form grand squares. Inside you find leafy parks of 200-year-old trees and ponds teaming with ducks and swans. At lunch time shaded park benches fill, and sandwiches are eaten as offices temporarily empty.

These squares were once accessible only to residents of the surrounding houses who were in possession of a key that would open the heaving and squeaking wrought iron gates. This was their shared urban garden. St. Stephen’s Green in fact was one family’s private garden. The Guinness family only had a short stroll from here…north and then west along the quays to St. James Gate where they brewed the black stuff.

This is the area you’ll find our parliament (this was once a private home, too—the Leinster family lived here), Trinity College and Grafton Street’s chic boutiques. You can drink a pint in the same snug Dublin’s poets and patriots frequented with a front row seat to a traditional Irish music session.

Cross the River Liffey (you are now in Dublin 1) on the historic ha’penny bridge and you are minutes from O’Connell street. This was once regarded as the finest shopping boulevard in Britain or her colonies. It was here that events leading to our independence started with the 1916 Rising at the GPO (General Post Office.)

It’s in this area, right in the heart of Temple Bar, that a studio apartment overlooking the chic Essex Street, goes to auction next month with a maximum reserve of 80,000 euro ($111,500).

You see, the real estate market in Ireland is deeply distressed. The mother of all bubbles popped, bankrupting the country’s banking system. When the liabilities of privately-owned banks were transferred to Ireland’s balance sheet, Ireland needed a bailout (from both the European Union and International Monetary Fund) to make good on loans that German, French and British banks had made to Irish banks.

It’s not pretty. Ireland is in a fiscal tailspin—a total contrast to the heady years of the Celtic Tiger.

But, life goes on.

Fire sales have been few and far between. Hardly anyone was willing to sell for what the market would pay. For the banks, recognizing market valuations would mean huge write-downs and major (further) recapitalization of their balance sheets.

Last year I told you to watch out…that fire sales would come. This process is now getting started.

More than 80 properties in Ireland’s major cities will go under the hammer in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel on April 15th. This is Ireland’s first sale of distressed, bank- and receiver-controlled properties.

Maximum reserves (the reserve may be lower on the day) start at 35,000 euro ($49,000) for a two-bed condo in the midland town of Portlaoise.

The pretty town of Clifden is located on the coast of County Galway. Here 102,000 euro ($142,000) might be enough to scoop a large terraced house that’s laid out as three apartments. You’re close to the town square, pubs and restaurants, and at the top of Beach Road which leads down to the water.

Some of the reserve prices represent a discount of as much as 80% on what similar units sold for at the peak.

This process is just getting started. Watch this space if you missed out on that cottage in Ireland for a song…and have been biding your time.

It might be now…or soon.

Editor’s note: Ronan McMahon is the director of Pathfinder (IL’s preferred real estate advertiser). Ronan keeps his best property research for members of Real Estate Trend Alert. Find out more about this group, and how to join, here.