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Photograph by John Kelly.

Kilkee locals competing with international buyers for housing

SINCE the pandemic the value of property in the Kilkee area has increased significantly, and while this is good news for some people in the area, it is also causing problems for others.

Councillor Cillian Murphy said that much of the local housing stock consists of purpose built holiday homes, but many other houses are now being bought by people looking for second homes.

“There are a couple of aspects to it, one is there is a lot of housing in Kilkee that was granted planning permission specifically for holiday homes, so they’re operating within the space they’re supposed to be operating,” said the cathaoirleach of West Clare municipal district.

“What we’re seeing more and more of now is that even in our local authority estates houses are coming up for sale, it might be the second time they’ve been sold, and our local community are competing in an international market for housing. They have to compete with people who have far bigger incomes than what’s available locally.”

In addition the pandemic saw many more people begin to work remotely, and a chunk of them liked the idea of coming to the area.

“The other thing that we’re seeing, and it’s due to Covid and the move to more remote work, is that living outside of the cities is a real option for many more people now.

“They can make the decision to move to places like West Clare, to the Loop Head peninsula, and make that decision on a lifestyle basis because their work will permit them.

“On one side it’s brilliant, we have new families coming, new people coming, they are people with jobs and they’re bringing their economic capacity with them.

“But on the other side, what we’re seeing is that houses that would have been long term rental and the monthly amount wouldn’t have been huge, but the value of those properties has gone up.

“What was worth €90,000 or €100,000 two years ago might now be worth €160,000 or €170,000, and what’s happening is they are being put on the market and people are realising the capital.”

With the stock of rental properties falling and prices being pushed beyond the reach of local people, he feels policy has to catch up.

“The Government has to start taking those things into consideration. There are pressures in many coastal communities that we wouldn’t have seen before and it’s important from a policy perspective that national government take it on board.”

While he feels there is a limit to what the State can tell people to do with their properties, it can make long term rental more attractive.

“What we need to be doing is putting in place things that make it as attractive or even more attractive to rent long term as short term.”

“I don’t believe in taking people’s house keys out of their pockets, I think that’s wrong fundamentally.

“But what I think we can do is apply some levers so that it makes sense to rent long term, and that there may be an increased cost to short term lets.”

He also feels that there should be a greater investment for job training in coastal areas where remote work is causing disruption, while he feels support for landlords to improve the BER ratings of their properties if they rent them long term, could be a positive option.

There may be an obvious housing issue, but he says the Government response must also involve other State departments, including the Department of Tourism.

“Tourism is a great income generator but it also has costs to our community. I know businesses that are not opening during the week because they have no staff, and we have no staff because we have no young people living in our communities.

“At what point do we go from people saying it’s a really good place to go on holidays to them saying there’s no point in going on holidays there because there’s no place to eat?”

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.