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Buying a property in Ireland – a few things worth knowing

Many reasons could motivate you to buy a property in Ireland. Firstly, although arguably with a more charming accent, Irish people speaks English. From the UK at least flights are regular and a short distance. The countryside is beautiful with lots of greenery and jaw-dropping sea coves.

 Those relocating will have an abundance of work opportunities with international corporations such as Facebook and Google now established in Ireland. Entrepreneurs will also be attracted by low corporation tax. Jobs in the tech, pharmaceuticals, and financial services increase each year.

Ireland offers wide open space and tranquillity. The UK, for example, has roughly 420 people per square kilometre, Ireland has 67 in the same area. Properties often have more sizeable land and gardens. It’s not uncommon whilst walking along the shoreline to be the only person on the beach. The same can be expected in many of Ireland’s national parks.

The more financially motivated will note that Ireland’s economy has gone from strength to strength in recent years. The country registered  GDP growth of over 8% in 2018. Employment and increase in wages underpinning the Irish economy. Naturally, Brexit and, more recently, the pandemic have stemmed economic activity. Despite this, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) expect a rebound. The institute forecast growth of 11% growth provided by increased consumer spending, exports and investment as lockdowns ease.

The property market in Ireland 

Numerous property websites have reported increased demand for property in Ireland. Some believe that prices have surged by more than 13% despite the lockdowns. It understood that the rise of 13% nationally saw the average home in Ireland rise from €303,000, breaking the €300,000 market for the first time. Dublin, as an example, rose roughly 10% year on year, with the average property in the capital costing €412,000. House prices have increased in the last four quarters, the last time the market seeing such consistent growth being 2014.

The most significant annual gains in Ireland were in Dublin, which increased by 8.4%. Other cities such as Cork, Limerick and Waterford  values increased by 14.3% to 15.5%, respectively, whilst Galway city prices rose by 12.6%.

Many believe prices have ballooned as supply has decreased. As with many other global locations, the ‘race for space’ has been a driver. Supply has been limited in rural areas. Planning restrictions have also become more strict and increases in the  price of materials also limits development. In contrast, city price inflation has been more limited as Covid has made less rural locations less desirable. 

Should you buy or rent in Ireland

Irish rental demand has increased roughly 30% since the post-crisis peak of 2008. Many people now prefer to rent prior to making the commitment of buying a home in Ireland. 

As an example, the average cost of renting a home in Ireland sits at around €1,334 per month. Dublin rentals prices are far more significant, with South County Dublin rentals averaging at €2,200 and €1,850 for North Dublin City.

The Irish Times produced an article last year (2020) stating that buying a property could be up to 42% less expensive than renting a home in Ireland. Essentially comparing the cost of renting and servicing a mortgage on a similar property, they predicted that the rental cost would be €1,952 per month and the mortgage cost €1,374 per month. The equation was based upon a 3-bedroom property. Whilst there is a potential saving of €578 per month, the upfront cost of buying a home shouldn’t be overlooked, notably deposits which will range from 10% to 30 % of the property’s value.

Your circumstances will also define whether renting or buying a home is the best solution for you. Mainly if you are new to Ireland or are just working on a part-time or fixed-term work contract.

Best places to buy property in Ireland

Divided into twenty-six counties, it can be hard to pin down the best places to buy a home on the Emerald Isle. Different areas cater for different tastes. However, broadly, these locations are considered some of the best places to relocate or buy a second home near. 

  • Dublin – For those in search of a little more action and city life, Dublin remains unrivalled. Dublin is known as one of the smallest and friendliest capitals. Transport to Cork and Galway is easy, and trains run regularly. 

Dublin offers the buzz of a major city but remains green with one of the largest urban parks (phoenix park) and easy access to the Wicklow mountains. 

The average property value in South County Dublin is around €600,000. In contrast, the average price in North Dublin City is €420,000. 

  • County Donegal – lovers of the great outdoors look no further! Co Donegal is those who look for lots of space and more tranquillity. The county enjoys 300 miles of Atlantic shoreline, meaning you can easily find time to take a dip. If you prefer keeping your feet on firmer ground, the Glenveagh National Park are not far away. 
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The average property price in Donegal is around €90,000, with homes in need of total renovation on sale for roughly €30,000. Small Sea view properties can be rented from €500 per month. 

  • County Galway – The young student population, pubs, cafés, and live music venues ensure Galway is one of the most vibrant cities in Ireland. Other more sedate attractions include football at Galway United FC, Galway’s races and the Arts festival. 

Galway city’s population totals about 80,000, with tourists and students flocking to the pubs and cafés. Many students frequent the NUI Galway, known mainly as one of Ireland’s best universities.

Property prices on average across Co Galway are around €210,000. Properties in Galway city start at €120,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, the monthly rental on a similar property is about €800.00 per month. 

  • County Cork – A popular location for UK expats, the area is known as accommodating and friendly, much like many other areas of Ireland. Foodies will enjoy the selection of artisan products which are sourced locally. The climate can be milder than in other areas of Ireland,  thanks to the gulf stream.

Life in West Cork means you’ll have constant access to jaw-dropping beaches and water sports, including kayaking, sailing, surfing and even whale watching.  

Property prices across Co Cork average at around €200,000, properties can rent from about €650 per month. 

  • County Kerry – Possessing some of Europe’s best beaches, Co Kerry is popular with lovers of the great outdoors. There are plenty of things to experience in Kerry, including the Ring of Kerry , which has become an essential tourist destination. Kerry’s terrain is excellent for mountain biking and  walking . Also popular with tourists, Kerry can be a great location to buy a home in Ireland if you are looking to rent your home. 

The average property in Co Kerry will set you back €200,000. If opting to rent in Co Kerry, monthly rentals costs start at roughly €900 per month. 

Can a foreigner buy a property in Ireland?

There are no restrictions on buying a home in Ireland for foreigners. Owning a home in Ireland doesn’t automatically qualify you to live in Ireland. Residency in Ireland will have to be granted by the authorities and will depend on your circumstances. 

Finding a home in Ireland

For those buyers who are time short or searching for a more unique and rare property in Ireland, you may wish to enlist the services of a specialist property buying agent. This agent will typically work on a retainer basis and present you with the best options available both “on and off the Irish property market” in your chosen area. This agent will then provide you with house valuation and bidding advice- and assist you with financing and legal matters through to the property sale completion. Specialist buying agents typically operate at the pricier end of the market on properties over €200,000 and profess to negotiate at least their fee off the final purchase price of the property. Providing buyers with access to properties that are not for sale on the open market. This consultancy is an excellent service, particularly for those unable to travel due to work commitments or unclear on the Irish house market and property buying process.

Associated costs of buying in Ireland

When buying a holiday home or relocating to Ireland, supplementary to the cost of the property will be purchase costs. Please see below a few other things to budget for:

Legal Fees and Conveyancing – this depends on the location of where you are purchasing in Ireland. Solicitors bill in one of two ways. This charge can either be as a flat fee or a percentage of the house value. These payments will represent a percentage of the properties value or a flat fee of roughly.

Lender’s valuation charge – when buying a property in Ireland with a mortgage, the financier will insist the buyer pays for a valuation appraisal. This valuation will cost between €150 – 250. 

Stamp duty charges – Stamp duty is charged at a flat rate of 1% for up to €1m above this threshold; any other stamp duty is set at 2%. 

Land registration fees – fees for land registration depend on the property location and value. The charge can vary from €400 to €800 for properties with a value of more than €400,000.

Sample Costs for a house purchase of €200,000 

  • Solicitor’s Fees €1250 plus VAT = €1537
  • Fees payable to Government departments
  • Land Registry fee €600
  • Land Registry fee (Certified Copy Folio) €40
  • Land Registry mortgage fee €175
  • Commissioner for Oaths €44
  • Property search fees (estimate) €150
  • Stamp Duty €2000

Total property buying cost including VAT €4546

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Please be aware charges can vary dramatically on different properties 

Most expensive areas in Ireland

The most desirable and expensive locations to buy property in Ireland include:

Blackrock – Blackrock, located just south of Dublin, is amongst the most expensive real estate in Ireland. Values remained unimpacted by the pandemic, with the average property price in Blackrock being €622,000.

Greystones Co Wicklow – Located on the east coast, this quaint fishing village has developed significantly over the years. Average property prices are €450,000, the highest outside of the capital. 

Kinsale Co Cork – On the southern coast of Ireland, two fortresses overlook the river Bandon. A haven for tourists, Kinsale’s population swells in Summer. The average home in Kinsale is priced at around €419,000.

Killarney Co Kerry – Killarney is a picturesque town on the shores of Lough Leane in SW Ireland’s . It’s a worthwhile stop on the Ring of Kerry scenic drive. Killarney’s 19th-century buildings include St. Mary’s Cathedral. Across the bridge from the cathedral is Killarney National Park. Median property prices in Killarney are around €210,000. 

Dublin – The most expensive postcode in Ireland is understandably in the capital. The Dublin 4 location being the most prestigious, with an average home price in Dublin 4 commanding €761,000. Dublin 6 closely follows this Eircode with a mean cost of €742,000.

Best Value areas in Ireland

These are some of the best value areas to consider buying a home in Ireland:

Longford – with a population of roughly 10,000, Long ford is the largest town in the county. Longford has a population equating to approximately a third of that of the whole county. The average house price is around €109,000 in Longford, making it one of Ireland’s cheapest places to buy. 

Leitrim – located in the north of Ireland, part of the border region. Situated on the River Shannon, financial investment in the 90’s encouraged the development of hotels and holiday homes. This investment spurred growth between 2002 and 2007, with further self-catering accommodation being developed. Average property values in Leitrim are €120,000.

Sligo – Spanning the Garavogue River, where it meets the bay in Sligo. The town is known for its literary heritage and resilient countryside. Sligo is served by rail, port and road transport links. This popular tourist destination is considered of great cultural importance. It also benefits from great beaches, perfect for swimming and surfing.  Average property prices in Sligo are around €123,000.   

Roscommon – the largest town in Roscommon county, Roscommon is located in the centre of Ireland. The name was taken from the stonemason who built the monastery there in the 5th century. Coman mac Faechon, an Irish saint, founded the monastery in fl 550. The average house price in Roscommon is €124,000. 

Most popular areas in Ireland with expats

Popular areas for expats to live in Ireland include:

Dalkey and Killiney Bay – Popular due to its proximity to Dublin city centre. It’s great for expats that enjoy the quiet life but also appreciate amenities. Kerry airport is also only a stones throw away. Amongst the most popular suburban areas of Dublin, expats flock to its quaint markets, beaches and golf clubs.

Skerries – Just 15 miles from the city, skerries is one of the most beautiful areas of co Dublin. Like many seaside towns, both the lovely property and location attract expats. Skerries are ideal for expat families looking for a peaceful, laid-back life near the sea.

Skibbereen Co Cork – situated in the county of Cork, those who enjoy the combination of variety, nonconformity and breath-taking backdrops will love Skibbereen. The town offers lots to expats who are looking to pursue a more laid-back style of life. Its also very common to bump into the odd celebrity who also flock to have made west Cork their second home. Thought of as one of the best places to live in Southern Ireland, the town hosts festivals and other events.

Galway – excellent for those looking to fall in love with someone, as well as the area. Galway has the highest percentage of singletons. In turn, there are a good number of pubs, restaurants and venues in the area. Galway boasts two Michelin star restaurants, six-blue flag rated beaches and several local markets.

Ennis – found in County Clare, Ennis is a classic small town and amongst the best places to live in Ireland. Only 12 miles from Shannon airport, it manages to retain much of its rural charm. An excellent location for those in search of a slower pace of life. Green open areas are plentiful, and there are some historic locations to discover. 

Top tips for those buying Ireland

Here are a few helpful tips when buying a property in Ireland, either relocating or owning a second home.

  • Get to grips with your budget – ensure that you are aware of all the implicated costs when buying a property in Ireland. These include Stamp duty, legal fees, survey costs, Engineer’s report, and removal costs.
  • Do your homework on financing – Many buyers only get guidance from one or two banks at most. However, it’s critical when financing to buy in Ireland that you review several bank’s offerings. Ideally, consult with a reputable mortgage broker who has access to all the market.
  • Find a reputable solicitor – solicitors fees can vary significantly in Ireland; therefore, ensure you feel you are getting good value. But foremost, a solicitor with a good reputation is vital. If you know someone who has bought, ask for a referral. If not, search the local review and try to find relevant reviews and feedback online. 
  • Start searching for your dream home – with the legal and financial side organised, you can begin your property search. When buying from overseas, try and visit as many relevant towns as possible, do not settle for the first area you visit. Forums and expat sites can provide lots of helpful info. Once you are settled on an area, draw up a must-have list and begin your search for your home in Ireland.
  • Get an offer accepted – Set yourself a budget and stick to it. This valuation should be a fair reflection of recent sold prices in the area, consider the property’s condition, and account for any immediate repairs that might need to be made.
  • Sale agreed – when you’ve decided on a sale price with the property agent, you’ll need to send a deposit to book the property. This holding deposit represents typically 5% of the properties value or a fixed amount, for example, €5000. A deposit is refundable up until contracts are signed.
  • Completing your home purchase – it’s worth hiring your structural surveyor when buying a home. The surveys which the lender requests can be less in-depth than those undertaken by a structural engineer. A survey will highlight any significant issues and allow you to renegotiate or retract your offer.
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New build completion

For those who opt for a new build home security, you have potentially seen the property take shape if purchased off-plan. Upon completion, you will receive a ‘completion notice’ once all work is completed on your home. At this point, it’s worth visiting the property and noting any fixes or issues.

Creating a snag list will ensure that you move into a home with no issues or problems that will irritate you or detract from the experience of owning a newly built home.

Financing a home in Ireland

The amount of money you can borrow in Ireland is strict and protects the Irish economy. As a rule of thumb, you can typically borrow 3.5 times of gross income. In contrast, UK lenders will offer up to 5 times of gross income.

Non-residents will borrow up to 65% of the properties value meaning a significant deposit will be expected. Some lenders will insist on a 40% deposit to purchase if you want to get a decent interest rate. On top of a substantial deposit, other lenders will also expect a non-resident buyer to deposit six months’ worth of mortgage payments before completion.

When based in a eurozone country, the application and acceptance for mortgages are greater. Therefore, those looking to relocate may have better luck financing once a resident in Ireland.

Transferring money to buy a property in Ireland

Once you’ve began your property search in Ireland its worth opening a foreign exchange account with an FX broker. This account enables you to get pre-purchase guidance on currency movements and be aware of FX contracts which could be advantageous when purchasing in Ireland and requiring euros. 

Whether buying a used property or a new build home, several FX contracts allow buyers to limit risk and lock in rates which can be beneficial when purchasing a new build property. 

Compared to retail banks, the rates on offer are significantly better, and many brokers transfer the money on a fee-free basis. Typical savings when compared to banks range between 2-4% on the figure being transferred. Meaning you could save the stamp duty on your Irish property. 

Opening a bank account in Ireland to buy a home

Opening a Bank account in Ireland to buy a home is pretty time consuming for foreigners, non-residents or expatriates.  

To open a current Irish account, you will require clear photocopies of these documents:  

  • Two examples of photo ID.  
  • One or two proof of current address. This document can be a recent house utility bill (such as a landline telephone *, electric or gas bill) or a recent bank account statement or financial institution. These may have to also be professionally notarised. 

(please note mobile phone bills will not be accepted as proof of address)  

Naturally, account opening benchmarks will change from one financial institution to another.  Be aware that this can take a while. 

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