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Construction of the Ashline social housing development in Ennis is ongoing. However, there is not enough affordable housing available in Clare for younger families. Photograph by John Kelly

CSO offers fascinating insight to house buyers in Clare

SOME 40% of houses sold in County Clare in 2019 went to single purchasers, rather than joint purchasers, according to research published this week by the Central Statistics Office.

The median price paid for a property in the Kilrush electoral area was €138,800, in the Killaloe area it was €175,000, in the Ennistymon area it was €180,000. 

The highest prices were in the most urban parts of the county, with a median of €188,000 in the Shannon electoral area and €193,000 in the Ennis area.

In the Ennistymon and Kilrush areas the median age of purchasers was 48 and 45 respectively.

It was below 40 in the other three areas, at 39 in Killaloe and 38 in both the Shannon and Ennis electoral areas.

For sole purchasers in the Ennistymon area the median income was €31,600, while in the Killaloe area it was €41,900.

The equivalent figures for the Shannon, Ennis and Kilrush areas were €39,200, €36,600 and €30,900 respectively.

For joint transactions the median income in the Ennistymon area was €76,200, while it was €74,900 for Kilrush, €72,600 for Ennis, €71,900 for Killaloe and €68,600 for Shannon. 

Auctioneer Diarmuid McMahon said that the older ages of purchasers in West and North Clare may be because more people buy second properties in those areas.

“I would think in those areas there’d be a disproportionate number of second homes. You’d have people who are that bit more mature who are buying a second property, it’s probably not their principal private residence so their age profile is that bit older.”

However he said that in general people don’t buy property until a bit later in life than would have once been the case.

“Worryingly, we’ve really had a dearth of people in their twenties buying property in Clare.

“One factor was the recession, the number of younger people who were able to find employment in Clare and settle. If you look at the town of Ennis, the expectation is that by 2040 the number of people aged over 60 will have doubled and the number of people aged over 80 will have quadrupled. 

“The lack of new housing stock is inhibiting younger families from choosing Clare as a location to live in.

“If you go back to the 1980s and 1990s there was a big boom in housing in towns like Ennis, Shannon was taking off, a lot of families moved into the region. But the lack of new housing now, we just don’t have the product for people in Ennis.”

On top of that the cost of renting means saving to buy is very difficult if not impossible.

“The current crisis we have is really inhibiting people in their twenties from purchasing at all, even if they want to. So much of their income is being gobbled up by rent that they can’t get a foothold.”

2019 might not seem so long ago, but many people’s working lives are very, very different now, and the rise of remote working has been a factor in driving price rises.

“We have pretty much had a seismic shift since then. You’ve had very considerable increases in values, but you’ve also had a very significant shift in people’s work patterns because of Covid and you’ve had a relocation of purchasers and people who want to move to the Mid-West.

“That flexibility is now there in their working arrangements and they’re bringing much stronger incomes with them and that’ll drive price.

“It’s inevitable that rising interest rates will temper that, we’re into a cycle of increased interest rates, but we do have a very, very significant housing shortage.

“It’s a very different to what you had in 2006 or 2007, it’s not a leveraged artificial situation, there’s a very real need for housing.”

He added that there are currently very few people investing in property, despite the very strong rents being paid.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.