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Irish Real Estate Market Slowly Recovering - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English
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Irish Real Estate Market Slowly Recovering

Dublin- This 3,670-square-foot Victorian house, known as the Old Rectory, was built in the late 1870s and used as a rectory until the mid-20th century. It is a 10-minute walk from the village of Ashford, in County Wicklow, about 30 miles from Dublin’s city center.

The front door, which is original to the house, opens onto a small entryway and, beyond that, a foyer. To the right are the dining room, a family room and a bathroom outfitted with bookshelves (the owners call it “the library bathroom”). To the left of the foyer is a large drawing room. A corridor off the foyer leads to the back of the house, connecting the kitchen, pantry, a boot room, a playroom and a half bathroom. A staircase from the foyer leads to the second floor, where there are five bedrooms, including a master with an en-suite bath. Original fixtures include marble fireplaces, windows and servants’ bells, and records document the property’s history. The kitchen’s four-oven AGA stove was installed several decades ago. The roof on the main house is about 10 years old; the coach house roof is at most 15.

Separated from the main house by a courtyard, the approximately 1,300-square-foot coach house has a living room, a full bathroom and a kitchen, as well as a separate half-bath at the back, accessible from the outside. The large room upstairs has been used as a writing studio and as a space for slumber parties. The property was a happy place for raising children, said Maureen Soraghan, an interior designer who is one of the owners. The lot, which is about four and a half acres, also has stables, an indoor pool, a field and a landscaped garden with magnolia and eucalyptus trees.

Ashford, with a population of around 1,500, is a 45-minute drive to the center of Dublin, making it a commuter community. Buses run to Dublin, while a train connects Dublin to the neighboring town of Wicklow, four miles away. Ashford has several restaurants and a small grocery store. Attractions include hunting, riding, cycling and the Mount Usher Gardens. Two schools are within walking distance of the house, and Dublin’s international airport is a 50-minute drive.

MARKET OVERVIEW

After a decade of rising prices that peaked in 2006 and hit bottom in 2012, the Irish real estate market is slowly recovering, said Keith Lowe, chief executive of Douglas Newman Good, a real estate agency in Ireland. The recovery has radiated from Dublin “like a ripple effect,” he said, first reaching the commuter areas around the city and then the rest of the country. Dublin property has increased in price by an average of 65 percent since 2012, but is still 44 percent below the peak. “I would think that property prices are much more in tune with people’s income and their ability to borrow,” Mr. Lowe said.

Still, the market is facing several issues, he added: Prices have risen faster than inflation; there is a housing shortage, because construction is not meeting demand; rents have risen sharply for several years in a row, limiting the purchasing power of potential home buyers; and the central bank has restricted credit.

In a report issued in early January by Daft, another Irish real estate agency, Ronan Lyons, an economist at Trinity College Dublin, estimated that Ireland needed between 40,000 and 50,000 new homes each year because of population growth and housing obsolescence. Instead, “for every ten new families formed,” he wrote, “just two new dwellings were built, for the entire period from 2011 to 2016.”

The government has taken some action to address those challenges, Mr. Lowe said. A new grant program for first-time buyers is intended to spur construction, and the central bank is starting to relax income requirements for those seeking mortgages.

Philip Guckian, the manager of the Dublin-based Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes, Farms & Estates, which has the listing, said luxury buyers were interested in historic homes in Dublin’s central neighborhoods, as well as the southern suburbs of Dalkey and Killiney. In County Wicklow, just south of Dublin, the draw was “value for money,” Mr. Guckian said. The entry point for luxury homes is around 750,000 euros ($810,000), compared with a million euros ($1.08 million) in Dublin.

WHO BUYS IN COUNTY WICKLOW

There has been a drop recently in the number of foreigners purchasing homes in Ireland, including in Dublin and its surroundings, Mr. Guckian said. “We are seeing the domestic buyer coming back more and more,” he added, citing the Brexit referendum and the resulting weakened pound, as well as uncertainty about American politics leading up to the 2016 presidential election, as causes. Recent foreign buyers have come from the United States, Britain, China, Japan and continental Europe, he said.

BUYING BASICS

Foreigners may purchase properties in Ireland effectively without restrictions, said Michael Walsh, a partner with ByrneWallace, a Dublin law firm. Each party retains its own attorney. The lawyer’s fee is typically less than 1 percent of the purchase price, and there is a value-added tax of 23 percent on that fee.

Closing costs paid by the buyer include a stamp duty (1 percent of the first million euros and 2 percent of everything over a million euros) paid on either the home’s market value or the purchase price, whichever is greater, Mr. Walsh said. The buyer also must pay a title registration fee, which does not exceed 800 euros, and public registry search fees for liabilities or issues including unpaid mortgages; those fees typically do not exceed 300 euros. Usually, the seller pays the real estate agent’s commission.

Mr. Walsh advised hiring a lawyer with sufficient professional indemnity insurance to cover the value of the acquisition.

WEBSITES

Dublin tourism: visitdublin.com

Wicklow tourism: visitwicklow.ie/towns-villages/ashford

LANGUAGES AND CURRENCY

Irish Gaelic, English; euro (one euro = $1.08)

TAXES AND FEES

For properties valued at more than a million euros ($1.08 million), the annual property tax is 1,800 euros ($1,944) and 0.25 percent of the excess value over a million euros, Mr. Walsh said.

The New York Times

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