Pandemic’s effect on coastal property market evident with prices in one popular town climbing 39% since last year
NEW research from Daft.ie shows the asking prices for properties in Lahinch has increased by some 39% since the start of the pandemic.
Searches on the website for Lahinch properties have gone up by 49%, according to research conducted by Dr Tom Gillespie, an Environmental Economist at NUI Galway, who himself moved to the north Clare village just before the pandemic.
The figures for Lahinch are included in the Daft.ie Coastal Report for 2021, which found that the prices sought for coastal properties in a number of selected areas around the country is up by an average of 23% compared to those sought prior to the pandemic.
The average increase for the country as a whole is just 8.7% in the same period. In his report, Dr Gillespie stated that the increase in achieved prices is likely to be greater than those in asking prices.
“This report is based on an analysis of listed prices but, if anything, the growth has been even greater in transaction prices.
“Based on a sample of Daft listings connected to the property price register, approximately one fifth of coastal properties are going for more than 10% of the asking price, approximately double the national ratio.
“The shift in interest from cities to coastline is also being seen in website searches and stated preferences of those active in the housing market,” wrote Dr Gillespie.
“Comparing February 2021 with the same month a year earlier, coastal area searches were up 45% whereas searches for Dublin city were down 59%.
“A survey of daft.ie’s users found that 9% of people who were looking to buy in a city pre-Covid19 changed their mind to add a coastal county onto their selection of areas of interest post-Covid-19.”
Asked if remote working was the main factor behind the strengthening market around Lahinch and similar areas around the country, Dr Gillespie said, “You can speculate on a lot of things, certainly remote working allows for that. Also increased savings, there’s increased appreciation of the sea, sea swimming and surfing have become hugely popular in the last while.
“You’re talking about people who are relocating from cities. We did a survey on Daft.ie and we asked people where they were looking to buy. They gave a list of areas and the next question was just before Covid where were you looking to buy. We saw how preferences changed after the pandemic.
“Some people said they had not changed, they were still looking in the cities. But 9% of people who were looking just in a city, changed their mind to include a coastal county in their selection set.
“It’s quite significant if you aggregate it to the entire buyer population, quite a significant rise.”
While demand for property in Lahinch and places like it has shot up, there doesn’t seem to have been a response so far.
“Covid has been a big shock to the system and things have been changing very rapidly. Supply hasn’t shifted with the demand, supply in Lahinch has been more or less fixed in the last year. The infrastructure in these small coastal towns is not exactly well equipped to deal with increased demand. It can be argued as well that it’s good for areas, brings life back into part of Ireland that were looking at a downhill slope pre-Covid.”
It’s not just Ireland that has seen changes due to Covid, so are people moving to the coast in other countries also?
“I’ve heard its happening in Cornwall in the UK, but I haven’t done much comparative study yet, I was focusing on the Irish market. But if people are able to work away from cities, the balance between being close to nature and close to jobs is shifting.
“People who want to stay in cities can stay in them, but people who dont’ want to be in the cities or the commuter belt might be able to go elsewhere.”
Tom is one of those who took advantage of remote working to come to North Clare.
“I work from the hub in Ennistymon. I’ve been going to Lahinch for years. I was in Dublin when the pandemic struck, I was working in Trinity and it closed. I’ve lots of friends in Lahinch, they offered me a place to say and I said I’d go straight down.
“I’ve been surfing Lahinch for years so it was an obvious place to go. I hadn’t lived there for a while and it was nice to get the face out before the lockdown happened! It was an amazing time, I was able to work well and you’d Lahinch nearly all to yourself.”
He still isn’t sure if Lahinch will be his home in the long term.
“I’m not sure, I have to think about that. I’m from Dublin and I do miss it when it’s at full tilt. I can see myself going back for a bit but ultimately returning to Clare.”
There are several other people who have arrived in similar circumstances to himself.
“There are a few people in the hub in Ennistymon who have done something very similiar, a couple of architects and engineers, there are definitely a few examples I can think of.”
He says it is still a bit early to tell if the trend seen since the start of the pandemic, marks the beginning of a long term shift.
“It remains to be seen what’s going to happen when things normalise. It’s difficult to call, I can’t see that trend in coastal properties reversing any time soon, but it may well stabilise relatively soon. With Covid, it’s very difficult to predict these things.”