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Locals getting squeezed out in North Clare property boom

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WITH remote working having changed the property market, the coastal area around Lahinch is seeing a property boom despite the pandemic, with a huge increase in the number of people looking to move to the North Clare area.
While it is very good news for those trying to sell property in the area, the strength of the market is seeing landlords sell up, and with a deficit in the stock of property for long-term rental, some people are being forced to leave the area entirely.
One local property went on sale for €295,000 recently, but ended up selling for €420,000, illustrating how strong the local market is right now.
Ennistymon auctioneer Peri Griffin said that the current market is reminiscent of the Celtic Tiger years.
“At the moment supply is low and demand is high. We don’t have a house for everyone, we could have 20 or 30 people after one house and that’s driving prices through the roof.”
She said that the local market was boosted by the Irish Open golf tournament two years ago, while the rise of remote working has sent it up another gear over the last year.
“When people started to work at home that changed everything. There are a lot of people living around Kildare but working in Dublin who are from here originally are coming back home.
“People who can work from anywhere are coming as well, Mullingar, Galway, everywhere. The surfing here is huge, a lot of them love surfing and love the rugged coastline we have here. It’s more of a laidback way of life here as well,” says Ms Griffin. 
In many cases the remote workers have higher incomes than people who have been living and working in the area for longer, something that makes the market more difficult for locals.
With the strength of the market encouraging some landlords to sell up, Ms Grifffin says that their tenants are being put into very difficult situations, with a shortage of houses for long term rental.
“We have a crisis on our doorstep here, an absolute crisis. We have no long-term (rental housing stock), and there are so many people having to move out of houses because they’re going up for sale or family members want them back.
“Covid hasn’t helped either, people can’t go away for holidays so they want their house in Lahinch back for a holiday.”
In some cases she says people are having to move away.
“We have no houses for anyone and people have no place to go. They will have to leave the area and they’re working in the area, they might have been here for 20 years.There is a huge amount of that type of housing needed now.”
Stephen Thomas of holiday home rental company Lahinch Property Management said that demand for holiday accommodation is also very strong this year.
“What we’ve found is that more owners of holiday homes are coming down this year, there’s more repeat business and people are coming and staying for longer.
“The people who would have come for two weeks are now coming for three weeks and demand is up.”
He said some people want to rent holiday homes as they work towards buying a permanent home.
“There are a lot of people wanting to move to the area, we have people saying I just want to rent for a couple of months while I buy a house, but there are no houses to buy either.”
Mr Thomas says there is no doubt that there is a huge demand for local housing now. “You could build another 200 houses in Lahinch and I’m sure they’d all sell.”

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.