AN increase in the population of children, whose parents were part of the baby boom in the 1970s, has led to a shortage of quality family homes in Ennis, according to a local auctioneer.
Diarmuid McMahon, managing director of Sherry Fitzgerald McMahon, said that inward migration, a focus by some house builders on building apartments and the standstill currently in the construction industry are also factors that have impacted on the availability of spacious family homes in the county town.
In addition, the difficulty in getting planning permission for one-off housing has negatively affected supply.
“Ennis market prices are down between 30% and 50% depending on the quality of property and location.
“Initially, the market for houses in the €150,000-€200,000 region began to move but those wishing to trade up are still finding it difficult to find good quality homes,” he said.
In commenting about the market situation in Ennis, Mr McMahon also highlighted a big advantage for home purchasers that has emerged from the property price slump.
“In effect, it is now 30% cheaper to trade up house property. A houseowner seeking to move to a larger home is at a strong financial advantage right now.
“In trading up, the price differential between the house you own and the house you desire is at its lowest for years. In such circumstances, there has rarely been a better time to move.
“Purchasing is more affordable, the cost of living is down, mortgage interest rates are low, at least for the time being, and there is a better opportunity to negotiate prices,” he said.
Giving examples of how it is 30% cheaper to trade up at the moment, he said a semi-detached house selling at €250,000 in 2006 is selling at €175,000 today.
A detached house valued at €450,000 in 2006 can now be bought for €315,000.
“The trade up cost in 2006 was €200,000 while the trade up cost today for the same properties is €140,000, equating to 30%.
“It is the differential that is important to consider for a houseowner wishing to sell,” Diarmuid stressed.
The Ennis auctioneer said this year in particular has been the most fraught and challenging for the Irish property market and equally for the property business in Clare.
“The suddeness of the slide was dramatic and caught many unawares but we are seeing a hint of brightness on the horizon,” he said.
He noted that Kilkee is the busiest property location in West Clare with sea views still positively impacting on prices.
On the question of mortgages, he said, “The unavailability of finance is currently believed to be an obstacle to buying property. Despite statements to the contrary from the banking organisations, anecdotal evidence suggests that banks are not giving out money as they were and the criteria for mortgages has changed.
“It is a widely held belief that unless you have a permanent and pensionable job there is no point in trying to get a mortgage, the savings requirements are too high and the consequences of losing existing jobs are inhibiting traders from being active.”