HOUSE OF THE WEEK
THERE’S a new range of realities to delivering new homes to Irish buyers, in a still-recovering property and construction market, says high-profile and seasoned developer Michael O’flynn, as the O’flynn Group this weekend launches a brand new development of 144 new-builds. And, one of those realities is the cost of new builds regrettably is still too dear for many aspiring purchasers, Mr O’flynn asserts.
The first 20 homes at Clonalara, Kerry Pike went for sale yesterday and today, at prices starting from €285,000/ €295,000 , for three-bed semi-detached homes of 1,113 sq ft.
Larger 1,323 sq ft four-bed are priced from €325,000, and 1,500 sq ft four-bed detacheds are priced from €365,000.
As reported Thursday, Mr O’flynn believes they could and should be cheaper, if impediments in the system are addressed as well as levies, VAT and land costs, at a time of enormous need for new house supply, to buy, and to rent.
“We haven’t a green light to build to meet demand, we’ve a flashing orange light, at best,” he observes. “Price levels are too high; we’re at the stage where an ordinary couple who are both working can’t afford to buy,” Mr O’flynn says, suggesting entry levels for starter homes should be €250,000/ €260,000.
The Clonlara development is significant on several fronts, and not just for O’flynns, who now have 30 men on site at Kerry Pike, on a 46-acre site they bought from receivers KPMG last year for over €4m.
Previous owners Colemans got the planning on the site several years earlier, and curiously it’s free of any social and affordable housing provisions, while for First Time Buyers it qualifies for the Help to Buy scheme.
It’s the first development of scale at Kerry Pike village, which is close to Blarney and Tower, and easily reached from the 5,000-job Apple Inc plant at Cork’s Hollyhill, where yet another further expansion is taking place. It’s also close to Ballincollig, where major employers like EMC and Vmware also employ thousands, and it’s just three miles north-west of Cork city’s boundary.
The scale of the scheme, with over 140 houses to be built for the product-starved Cork market, is also notable, as is the fact there’s a range of nine house types aimed at the starter to mid-markets, with 82 of the houses being the everreliable housing staple, semi-detacheds. All are two-storey builds (there’s no terraces or bungalows,) block-built with stone detail around windows and doors, and they’ll have stoves, and air to water geothermal heating, and mechanical ventilation, ensuring a A3 BER and low running costs. Clonlara is also of interest as its the first scheme of scale to break ground in Cork in several years that isn’t backed by Nama, so its funding and bank financing is of particular note.
Selling agents are Sherry Fitzgerald, who’ve built up a list of several hundred names since the start of the year; Clonlara’s launch has been awaited since mid2016 after O’flynns acquired the land with full planning permission in place, with design by Doyle Mcdonagh Nash architects.
Those registered names were contacted by e-mail this week, invited to a soft-launch preview from noon yesterday, and today there’s a more open launch, with a marketing suite on site open from noon to 2PM.
Tellingly, as one of the ‘new’ realities, the site’s wood-clad marketing suite has been transported from its previous base at Mount Oval Village in Rochestown, where its presence for nearly 15 years helped the O’flynn Group sell over 850 homes: its sales expectations at Clonlara are less onerous, with ‘just’ 144 houses due in several phases of sales.
Sherry Fitzgerald New Homes Director Paul Hannon, with SF’S Norma Healy, will lead the sales push and they describe the low-profile Kerry Pike setting as having “long been a desirable and a highly sought-after residential location to live.” Clonlara adjoins the local 150-pupil Clogheen and Kerry Pike National School, and the arrival of new families is expected to boost teacher numbers at the existing school, with a short pedestrian path connecting it to the new development, while the local Gleann na Laoi GAA club is 200 metres away.
“This large scheme is a good test for the starved New Homes market in Cork, and we’re confident of securing strong sales. The mix of the nine house types ensures the scheme has a wide and varied appeal,” says Mr Hannon.
The nine house types at Clonlara all have Irish tree names, including the Yew, Holly, Oak, Sycamore, Elm, Hawthorn, as well as the Ash, Alder and Aspen: to that list could also be added The Apple, given the Kerry Pike setting so close to Apple’s EMEA HQ at Hollyhill?
VERDICT: New homes, new location, new start.