Origin Capital Weekly. Irish Property. From 4.12.18 report.

Limerick Industrial / Office
175,452 sq.ft of industrial space transacted in the first nine months in 2018, 90% of which related to leasehold transactions. There is currently 1,469,812 sq.ft. of space available at the end of Q3 and while this is the highest of the three regional centres outside Dublin, it is a decrease of 5% YoY. Cushman and Wakefield highlight that while availability is the highest, Limerick also holds the largest volume of Grade C space at 65% compared with 19% in Cork and 7% in Galway. Prime rents have increased to €5.48 psf up from €4.48 psf during the same period in 2017.

68,351 sq.ft. of office space was taken up in Limerick in the first nine months in 2018 over 11 lease deals compared with 84,497 sq.ft in the same period in 2017.Notwithstanding this, there was 65,660 sq.ft. either signed or pre-let at the end of Q3 which if taken up by year end will match 2017 figures. At the end of Q3 there was 631,303 sq.ft. available, which represents at 19.2% decline YoY, and is the first time in ten years the figure has fallen below 645,834 sq.ft. Vacancy rates were 15.3% at the end of Q3 from 19.4% the previous year. City Centre prime grade A rents are achieving €30.19 psf while new building in the suburbs are achieving 26.62 psf. Prime headline rents remain at €19.97 psf.


Builders fear ‘affordable’ homes won’t sell, warns council boss

By Ryan Nugent

AFFORDABLE residential developments are not being built because developers are “very worried” they won’t be able to sell to people struggling to get mortgages.

That’s the verdict of the deputy chief executive of the country’s largest local authority, Brendan Kenny. He says Dublin City Council is willing to try anything to resolve the housing crisis, but can only do so when private developers build “like they used to”.

Mr Kenny pointed out that new student accommodation hubs and hotels have been “flying up” – but private residential developments are not happening at the same pace.

“It’s kind of ironic. If you have a developer building in Ballsbridge or Donnybrook or Docklands at €800,000 to a million, they’re selling, but a developer who wants to build a housing estate in Cabra for €300,000 to €350,000 each, he’d be very worried if he’d get buyers for it,” he said.

“We’d like to see more private residential, the private sector is not really moving. We can only do so much. I don’t think we can solve the housing crisis in the city.

“We need the private sector building like they used to and they’re not.

“They’ve a lot of land in the city, they’re building student accommodation, flying up, they’re building hotels, flying up, but they’re not building residential.

“There’s probably a few reasons for that. The building of residential is not viable for them. They find it hard to borrow money to build and also these days they’re not sure they’ll get buyers because it’s very hard to get mortgages.”

Figures released by the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) last October showed that some 11,000 people drew down a mortgage worth an average of €220,730 in the three months to September.

It is believed much of this was driven by first-time buyers and represented an increase on the same period in 2017.

The average home loan amount at €220,000 is much less than the mortgage required for a house in the region of €300,000 to €350,000. House prices in urban centres such as Dublin, Cork and Galway have skyrocketed in recent years due to a chronic lack of supply.

Last year, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar referred to units costing €315,000 in a residential development in North County Dublin as “affordable”.

CSO data issued in November showed that fewer houses are being bought as property prices continue to rise. Economists said the surge in prices in recent years and Central Bank lending limits on mortgages are taking the steam out of the market.

In relation to dealing with the ongoing housing crisis, Mr Kenny says it could be another three years before any real difference is seen in housing, and concerns about the crisis won’t be allayed next year.

And he has insisted that local authorities can’t fix it alone, they need more help from private developers.

Dublin City Council is facing a battle on two fronts – one is short term, to ensure there’s enough emergency accommodation for those presenting as homeless.

The other is getting families back into permanent homes by building and buying. “We’re willing to try anything. I have staff trawling the city. I’ve staff looking at papers every single day to see what’s in the papers, what’s available and we’re out there ready to bid, either to buy or to lease.

“We simply can’t get anything. If there were properties out there we’d buy them up, if there’s hotels available they would buy them up and put families into them,” said Mr Kenny. “We’ve actually followed through on a number of hotels and we haven’t been successful.

“We have a couple in mind outside the Dublin area that could come to something early in 2019, so I’m not against that. So the reality is we’re willing to try anything.”

Earlier this year, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy wrote to Dublin’s four local authorities pressuring them to reach high targets of family hub spaces by the end of 2018. The targets were almost impossible to reach, according to Mr Kenny.

The council’s chief executive Owen Keegan wrote back to Mr Murphy explaining this while floating the idea of a cruise ship to help address the crisis. This would have been for housing single homeless people, as opposed to families.

When asked about the possibility of it at the time, the minister dismissed it out of hand.

But if the crisis deteriorates further, it is still on option that’s on the table, Mr Kenny says.

“That’s something we thought about and it’s something we wouldn’t rule out. We don’t think it was such a bad idea as people thought and we did go into some of the detail of it at the time,” he says.

“It would be a very controversial way of doing business but it works well in other cities so we wouldn’t rule it out. But it’s not something we’re considering at the moment.”

The council says it hasn’t much of its own land left to build on. Some 90 hectares is allotted for current developments, with the remaining 30 or so in areas such as Ballymun, Darndale and Cherry Orchard – places which already have a high concentration of social housing.

In four or five years, Mr Kenny says DCC will have no land left to build on.

“We don’t want to recreate the problems of the past.

“We could go to Ballymun and build thousands more high rises, but it wouldn’t be the right thing to do.”

The council has developed a framework to speed up the procurement process, along with using emergency powers to cut some more time. It is also building volumetric units – mainly apartments – with the majority of 1,000 planned for 2019 across

It is hoped homes can be built in 18 months rather than the current three years.


Winter freeze: Central Bank rules and Brexit concerns cause ‘paralysis’ in house sales. (Source) Independant.ie

By Mark Keenan

The property market was struck with paralysis in the last quarter of the year, as lending rules and Brexit concerns kept prices static.

The values of average homes either rose by tiny increments or stayed still during one of the slowest quarters for house-price inflation nationally since the crash.

The lack of lending-rule exemptions at this time of year has also made the usual season slowdown more apparent.

Around half of all markets surveyed showed no growth at all, according to the Irish Independent/Real Estate Alliance (REA) Average House Price Index published today.

The average semi-detached house nationally now costs €236,287, the Q4 REA Average House Price Survey has found – a rise of 0.6pc on the previous quarter’s figure of €234,284.

Overall, the average house price across the country rose by 4.6pc in 2018 – indicating that the market is continuing to steady after an 11.3pc overall rise in 2017.

After rising by 12.5pc in 2017, the average price of a second-hand semi-detached house in the capital has increased by just over €7,000 this year and now stands at €445,167.

In the capital and commuter belt areas, much of the slack at the end of the year was caused by what estate agents now term “Q4 Syndrome”.

This is an end-of-year paralysis caused by an artificially created slowdown in mortgage lending, particularly as people tend to wait for the new year and a new chance at exemptions to strict lending rules.

Elsewhere across the country, the usual seasonal slowdown was amplified by “wait and see” attitudes over Brexit.

The index indicates national price growth through the quarter for semi detached homes of just 0.62pc compared to 1.8pc for the same quarter in 2017.

The data demonstrates exactly how the irregularly-timed issuing of lending rule exemptions by banks is distorting the property market in Dublin, Cork and commuter locations.

Read more: More than 10,000 households will soon have to pay property tax for first time

The phenomenon is frontloading sales activity and price inflation into the first quarter of the year and killing it in the last.

The survey looks at the current sales value of the average Irish property type – the three-bed semi.

It clearly shows property price inflation happening the first part of the year, particularly in Dublin, Cork and commuter areas where average homes are most affected by the Central Bank’s strict mortgage lending criteria.

But both north and south County Dublin along with Cork experienced zero price growth in the last quarter, while postcoded Dublin districts saw values rise by just 0.4pc.

This was perhaps to be expected given that cash sales have diminished (from 27pc to 19pc in the year) and loan ceilings for mortgage loans have been reached for average buyers for three-bed semis in most Dublin locations.

Overall the price of a three-bed semi-detached house in Dublin city has increased by just 1.6pc in the last 12 months as the Central Bank’s borrowing rules increasingly define affordability in the housing market.

But elsewhere, general uncertainty over Brexit was blamed for flat quarters in more affordable counties which had otherwise experienced high inflation earlier in the year. It is a sign that returning Irish will be putting plans on hold until the Brexit outcome is clear.

Meanwhile, many of those in towns based in farming locations have been concerned over how incomes, employment and therefore values will pan out, depending on the Brexit outcome.

Rural communities reliant on farm incomes will also feel spooked over the heightened antics in Britain.

Overall, agents expect activity to resume somewhat in the new year when exemptions are back on the menu and there is greater clarity on Brexit.

Several counties which saw price growth in the first nine months of the year saw zero growth in the last quarter. The most striking was Laois, which had experienced 18pc price growth in the first three quarters of the year, but saw zero growth in the last quarter. The trend was also evident in Leitrim, Wicklow, Cavan, and Limerick.

Other counties showing zero growth in the final quarter included Wexford, Donegal, Mayo and Westmeath.

Overall, the data shows that the Central Bank’s lending regime is definitely succeeding in keeping price inflation under control in more expensive locations.

Recently the property sector appealed to the Central Bank to reassess the way that exemptions are frontloaded and therefore distorting the market on this basis. However ,the Central Bank has refused to alter the regime.

Suggestions that banks are deliberately “stretching out” sales at the end of the year is evidenced by an increase in the average time to sell a home moving up to seven weeks.

One Dublin agent, REA Fitzgerald Chambers in Stoneybatter, reported that average prices dropped by €20,000, or down 5pc, in the final quarter of the year, with average sales times increasing from four to eight weeks.

The Irish Independent REA Average House Price Survey concentrates on the actual sale price of Ireland’s typical stock home, the three-bed semi, giving an up-to-date picture of the second-hand property market in towns and cities countrywide to the close of last week.

“Across the board, agents are reporting that the supply of finance to the market has decreased as banks use up their exceptions to the rules in the early part of the year,” said REA spokesperson Barry McDonald.

“The second-hand market has become extremely price sensitive across the country and it is the areas with quality housing stock available for under €270,000 that are achieving highest growth. Once again, there is a drop-off in viewings for four-bed housing in certain areas where they are priced over €400,000, illustrating the influence of the Central Bank rules.”

Growth in the commuter counties also slowed to 0.38pc in the last three months – an annual rise of 4.18pc – with the average house now selling for €249,472.

This is an annual rise of €10,000 and growth of €2,000 in the last three months.

The biggest urban rise was seen in Galway city, where selling prices rose by 2.7pc in the quarter to €282,500 – a yearly increase of 9.7pc.

“The Galway city market remains buoyant, however it is taking a longer to get sales closed, with average time to sell rising from four to seven weeks in the final quarter,” said Kevin Burke of REA McGreal Burke.

“At the higher price points, sales are slower as the number of cash buyers has dropped from 15 to 10pc over the course of the year.”

The price of housing in Waterford city, at €210,000, is one of the reasons for its 2.4pc rise in Q4, and 7.7pc annual increase, according to Barry McDonald.

“Our agents REA O’Shea O’Toole report that demand continues to be strong and asking prices are being exceeded by competitive bidding, with properties achieving sale agreed status within four weeks of being put on the market,” he said.

Prices have stayed static in Limerick city in Q4, with its average selling price of €200,000 representing a 4.2pc increase throughout 2018.

Local agent REA O’Connor Murphy says that an increase in new developments has stabilised the second-hand residential market there.

Cork has experienced the slowest growth of the four, up 2.4pc annually, with an average price of €317,500, and remaining static in the past three months.

Agents are reporting a limited supply of three-bed semis in mature and popular residential areas.

The highest annual increases (7.7pc) were once again seen in the rest of the country’s towns, which rose in selling price by an average of €10,000 in 2018 and which experienced a 0.85pc rise in Q4 to an average of €157,717.

In holiday home areas, such as Killarney and Bantry, buyers over €500,000 are hedging their bets on a rise in sterling if there is no hard Brexit, which could give them a 15pc increase in value.


Richard Harris’s Limerick childhood home for €785k

n the 1930s actor Richard Harris swung Tarzan-like from the trees in the gardens of Overdale, a tall, elegant, early 19th-century redbrick on Limerick’s Ennis Road. He went to Crescent College from there, played a lot of rugby and left the house that was his home for worldly fame and fortune in 1952.

And now that childhood home, Overdale, is on the market. The current owners have lived in Overdale for 20 years and, during the 1990s when they ran a retreat house, they carried out renovations. The result is nine en suite bedrooms. Semi-detached, Overdale has three storeys, a substantial 325sq m (3,500sq ft) floor space and a layout that, bedroom floors aside, is elegantly traditional with high ceilings, a great deal of light and fine original features all awaiting the next phase in its interesting life.

Agent REA O’Connor Murphy is seeking €785,000 for the house set well back from one of Limerick city’s most distinguished roads. It would make a fine family home, or work well as a guesthouse. A copper beech stands guard by the entrance gate and the long garden to the front has hedging and lawn. The rear garden is in lawn and with planted flower beds, a block shed and gated access to off-street parking.

The wide entrance hallway is every much of its time with an ornate tiled floor, dado rail, cornicing and soaring ceiling. The formal drawing and sittingrooms on this ground floor take light from the front-facing bay window, have sliding, glass-panelled doors between them, cornicing and, in both rooms, impressive black marble fireplaces. A kitchen with pantry, a laundry, guest WC and diningroom to the rear are relatively new additions. The kitchen and diningroom have polished timber floors and garden views.

A couple of large bedrooms and a dressingroom off the first floor landing could convert to a showpiece main bedroom.


Paul McNeive: ‘More change to come for property markets in 2019’

Paul McNeive

Everyone operating in the property market should be well read on trends in the industry, not least to bring ‘added value’ to meetings with developers and other clients. There is no better source of information than the ‘Emerging Trends in Real Estate: Europe’, a joint publication by The Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PwC. The forecast for 2019 points to some surprising trends, and given that the report is based on the opinions of 885 real estate professionals, investors, fund managers, financiers and developers, it deserves attention. Here are some of the points that caught my eye.

As a measure of the disruption in retailing caused by online competition, in a table rating the prospects for 27 asset classes; city centre shopping centres, retail parks and out-of-town shopping centres, hold the bottom three places respectively. Conversely, the shift to online retailing sees logistics rated at number two. Co-living, ie. residential development with smaller unit sizes but enhanced community facilities such as meeting spaces, gyms, cinemas and concierges, is rated as having the best prospects for both investment and development. This type of development is rare here (our student housing is probably closest) – but watch out for it becoming a feature in our cities.

The report points to another shift in the market in that, whilst there is agreement that European markets are at, or close to, the top of the cycle, instead of investors settling for secondary assets to try and get value, they are moving into alternative markets. Thus we see sectors such as retirement/assisted living, serviced offices, data centres, student housing, private rented residential, serviced apartments, housebuilding and social housing making up the top 10 rated sectors. The emphasis on residential development is interesting, and reflects a shortage of housing in cities across Europe.

In the office sector, the effect of co-working cannot be ignored. This is the renting of desk spaces or larger flexible spaces on short leases, with communal facilities. This sub-sector accounted for 15pc of all office take-up in London last year, and is growing. The report says that co-working is changing the way occupiers use space and will lead to reduced space requirements over the long-term. Co-working is changing the nature of corporates’ relationships with landlords, is getting into the agents’ space, and is referred to as “the Amazon of the office market”. The office market is undergoing a structural change, similar to that experienced in retailing. Property agents take note!

The report predicts an increasing pace of urbanisation across the continent. In a ranking of the overall prospects for investment and development in 31 cities, Dublin is third. Lisbon and Berlin are rated above Dublin, but London, where Brexit issues are weighing heavily on the market, is ranked at 29. UK provincial cities like Manchester and Birmingham are also predicted to perform relatively poorly.

The report points out that London’s position is paradoxical in that, despite Europe’s biggest and most liquid real estate market, being ranked relatively poorly for last year, money continued to flow in. This was largely driven by Asian buyers seeking large assets and exploiting weaker Sterling. Investment spending in the year to the end of Q3 2018, was €20bn in London, and the next highest city is Paris at €12bn.

Another slight surprise is that Europe’s property industry leaders rate “transport connectivity” (road, rail and airports) as the most important factor in choosing where to develop and invest. Availability of assets, forecast returns, and market size and liquidity, are next. I suspect the seventh place ranking of digital connectivity is down to an assumption that it’s is a given, at this stage.

The full report is available at europe.uli.org and every property professional should be reading it. I suggest asking your graduates to present a summary of it to your firm, some lunchtime.

Homeowners here still paying more for mortgages than other countries in euro area


Homeowners here continue to pay more than the typical cost for a mortgage in the other countries in the euro area.

A lack of competition in the banking market has been blamed.

New figures from the Central Bank show that home buyers paid an average interest rate on new mortgages agreed in October of 3.06pc, compared with an EU average of 1.77pc.

The regulator had originally put out a figure of 3.14pc for the average new mortgage rate in October.

When questioned by this publication, it admitted this was an error.

“That [3.14pc] figure is incorrect and will be corrected. It should be 3.06pc instead of 3.14pc,” the Central Bank.

The average interest rate in September was 3.08pc, which means that rates have gone down ever so slightly.

Last month European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, speaking in Dublin, blamed a “quasi-monopoly” among banks here for the high rates. AIB and Bank of Ireland dominate the market.

Calculations based on the Central Bank mean a typical new buyer is paying almost €157 more for their mortgage each month compared with the average in the Eurozone.

Read more: Where are Ireland’s top housing markets? Increase of 20pc in Irish property millionaires

Over a year this works out at almost €1,900 a year more being paid here by a typical new borrower than in the rest of the euro currency area, according to calculations by price comparison site Bonker.ie.

The latest mortgage cost figures come as Fianna Fáil representatives met with Central Bank officials to discuss ways to tighten rules for variable mortgage interest rates, as part of a new Confidence and Supply deal with Fine Gael.

The party is now demanding new laws to limit hikes to variable mortgage rates be introduced in return for propping up Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Government.

The Central Bank previously said that interest rates are “subject to existing contracts and contract law”. It also said it was concerned about the Central Bank’s statutory functions to “encompass the regulation of competition”

It is understood the Central Bank may be more open to new rules if the Dáil defines the actual cap on mortgage rates or clearly set out a methodology under which a cap could be deciphered.

A revised bill will also seek to clampdown on cash back offers which some banks use to attract first-time buyers on the grounds that such deals camouflage higher rates.

Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath confirmed to the Irish Independent that tackling mortgages is a key priority for the party in the year ahead.

Charlie Weston.