According to Des O’Malley, Head of Sherry FitzGerald Countrywide, the first 30 days since lockdown ended has been marked by viewers returning to house hunting.
‘The regulations about house viewings are there to protect people but, to be honest, even if they weren’t, I think people would be respectful viewing a house that is not theirs.’
‘There is a discernible trend of people who have a connection in an area but who have forged their careers in cities like Dublin, now looking to return to raise their families near to where they grew up themselves, and to travel to Dublin or wherever as required. This could be for 2 days a week where they may stay with a sibling for the night or it could be a day a month.
Our viewing diaries are very busy at the weekends accommodating viewings for this cohort of people. They generally come with a knowledge of the area and know there are great schools, good sports facilities, a sense of community, and a connection with the countryside.
From their perspective, the houses they are looking at are affordable, and if they want to make changes or put on an extension, they have the financial capacity to do so. While they don’t think making such a move is going to be a breeze, they are looking to live in a progressive, open-minded, liberal society. Many see a new Ireland emerging right throughout the length and breadth of Ireland.
Where this takes us over the next 2 or 3 years who knows, but many of them are bringing skills that would benefit the wider community, not to mention increased consumer spending which should help local businesses.
This brings new life to towns and villages who, in the past, found it hard to retain young, productive high-earners. Also, it eases the pressure on Dublin, which is no bad thing.
Reliable broadband is a prerequisite for these house hunters - they want to end up having a house with a good energy rating and open space in terms of a reasonable garden, things they don’t have in a city.’
‘Given the stock shortage and the combination of a lack of emigration and the momentum of the diaspora to return, I personally don’t think it will be long before we see house building being viable again. If there continues to be a limited second-hand stock available in or close to our towns, and a new house can be built that is attractive and sustainable in design and offers a reasonable garden, house buyers, in the next couple of years, will be prepared to pay for that.’
‘Many viewers are mentioning our good road network and rail connections, and that seems to have an influence on their decision.
At the same time, they don’t seem to want to spend too much time sitting in a car or on a train. The pandemic seems to have given them a desire to claim back their lives.
2020, in retrospect, could be seen in the long-term as a game-changer for regional Ireland but the short-term challenge for local businesses, the agri & food sectors, and tourism, is an immediate one.
Ultimately, if we come through it, we may end up with an increased economic dynamic and a greater sense of community.’
Aside from the diaspora looking to return to live here, there is also renewed interest in the holiday home market, not just from within Ireland, but also from abroad. When the airports fully open again, our diaries are going to be busy with people, not just the diaspora looking to return permanently, but also those looking to buy a holiday home.
There’s no doubt that the political situation in the U.S. and in the U.K. over the last 4 years, has given many Irish people living in those countries, pause for thought as to where they want to live permanently, or at least for part of the year.’